New: SPOD – Party of One

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Forget that bloke from Old Spice – SPOD is the man that you wish your man could be. Tall, handsome, makes great beef jerky and music videos. He’s also Australia’s superior answer to Andrew W.K; a one man party extravaganza who’s single-minded mission is to get your hips shaking.

But what happens when the party is over? When last drinks have been called, and not even the sweet, sweet sounds of Madonna can keep feet shuffling on the dance floor. Well, then it’s time for “Party of One”, the latest from SPOD’s camp since his 2014 record Taste the Sadness.

Stacked with a funk that would knock over George Clinton, only occasionally interrupted by SPOD’s classic deadpan “Um, yes please, a party of one, thank you”, this new jam serves as a tactile response to that snooty maitre’d who keeps asking if you’ll be joined by anyone this evening. Jeez, can’t a fella just enjoy an espresso martini by himself anywhere these days?

In case you haven’t heard, SPOD will be 1/3rd of the best lineup in town on the 20th of August, joining The Gooch Palms and Bachelor Pad at the former’s album launch at Oxford Art Factory.

 

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Top 10 Bands of Laneway Festival 2016

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Laneway Festival just announced their lineup for 2016, and fuck me, I’ve shit the bed…twice. Whilst I clean the sheets, old mate WordPress came calling, and now you’ve got a list, ANOTHER BLOODY LIST, telling YOU who to go and begrudgingly see after you inevitably figure out that those caps you bought off the lad in Camperdown Park are duds.

10. Violent Soho

It seems real weird that Violent Soho were booked for Laneway Festival. The festival has always prided itself on booking acts either on the cusp of popularity, or who have only recently tasted that sweet, sweet music career success. Violent Soho easily sell out some of the biggest venues in the country, and already played the festival in 2011. It’s not really a complaint, as the band always put on a hell of a show, but it begs the question as to why the festival didn’t book someone more emerging as opposed to a band so established? Still, if ya feel like showering in other people’s sweat (read: my sweat) in a mosh, your best bet is to head to wherever Soho are playing.

9. Silicon

Kody Nielsen’s got a resume worth having a gag over: The Mint Chicks, Opossum, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and now Silicon. Old mate’s been signed to Domino Records (via Weird World), home to Sebadoh, Jon Hopkins and Dan Deacon. He’s got a record coming out which features the bloody tops “Burning Sugar”, and in a few weeks he’s going to be touring with Tame Impala Only one of those achievements is boring.

8. Majical Cloudz

Jesus Christ, Majical Cloudz are pretty good at making you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing with your life. The voice of Devon Welsh is like a mixture of your parents’ telling you that they’re disappointed in you and being left at the altar. There’s a whole lot of pain there, and it’s shaping up to be that watching Majical Cloudz in the flesh is going to feel like Frosty the Snowman is reaching into our chest cavities and strangling our hearts.

7. HEALTH

These guys are fucked, in the best way possible. Think of the danceable noise of Holy Fuck, but trodden with paranoia and an addiction to unpredictability. Their ‘Get Colour’ record is an incredible experience that, if listened to correctly, should blow out your ear drums. Their new record ‘Death Magic’ is equally visceral, a dark, violent affair well-worth your time. Allegedly, HEALTH’s live shows are surreal events that warrant ear plugs and a clean smock.

6. Thundercat

Look, I’ll be honest, my heart fluttered for a second when I thought that the cult 80’s kids cartoon I watched re-runs of when my parents were asleep was going to make a live-action comeback. I would bite the dick off a gargoyle if that opportunity presented itself. Unfortunately, we’ll have to settle for the other Thundercat, a Flying Lotus collaborator, bass god and master of neo-soul who will make us all want to be better people. #realtalk though, how sick would it be to abuse a pimply kid in a Snarf costume between craft beers and Grimes?

5. The Goon Sax

Let’s be real: it was definitely my article on the best bands of BIGSOUND that got this one over the line. You can be one of the best emerging acts to put jangle-pop on its head, you can pull off an incredibly heartfelt and original set in a packed out bar in Brisbane, and you can warrant a whole lot of tongue wagging with the announcement that you’re joining Chapter Music off the back of a few demos. But you can’t underestimate the power of #localblogs.

In all seriousness, it’ll be interesting to see how The Goon Sax pull off a set at a festival like Laneway. In a pub, they’re on home turf, playing to small, packed crowds of people that adore the music they make; their charm arises from their faults and humbleness displayed on the homely  pub stage. Who knows what might go down in front of gum-chewing punters hanging for Hudson Mohawke. Fingers crossed the rest of Australia gets to see the magic that I saw at Ric’s a few weeks back.

4. METZ

Their second album was a bit of an uneven affair, lacking the succinct and determined power of their debut, but there’s little doubt that METZ have lost the strength of their live show. Their show at GoodGod two years ago remains one of my favourites, and not just because they were joined by TV Colours and Batpiss. There’s an ungodly amount of bite in METZ’s music which is hurled at anyone within a fortunate distance. The Laneway organisers should put these guys and HEALTH together and ensure that NOBODY CAN HEAR ANYTHING EVER AGAIN!

3. Vince Staples

Rap is not my strong game. Shit, it’s not even my game. I don’t know the rules, I don’t own the proper paraphernalia, and sometimes I get scared when I listen to an N.W.A song. But Vince Staples swooped in and plastered his ‘Summertime ’06’ record everywhere, and shit, I ain’t even mad. This album is thrilling, a thuggish, brutal hip-hop record that floats between expert production and terrifying lyrics. Live, his exuberance and savagery will produce gulps of fear in the squares of Australia.

2. Blank Realm

The Australian contingent is pretty solid this year, relying less on proven success stories of yore (e.g Dune Rats and Courtney Barnett last year) and more on instinct and intuition. It explains why artists like Ali Barter and High Tension found their way on the lineup. But Blank Realm!?? I assumed this band was doomed to a fate of being adored after their time, like fellow Brisbanites The Saints. But Laneway have made the right choice and picked up the best band in Australia for performance duties. Good. Fucking. Option. Mates.

Seriously, the shunning of mainstream popularity for Blank Realm is criminal. How many masterpieces have you got to release before the floodgates of mass devotion open? The answer is three. Blank Realm have three masterpieces. They just released their latest opus, and fuck me, if you still haven’t checked it out, then do yourself a favour and press repeat until your fingers bleed.

1. SPOD (TBA)

Some dickhead graphic designer completely forgot to put SPOD’s name on the lineup again! Jesus Christ! Two years in a row! That’s a stab in the back, isn’t it! Maybe the contracts still have yet to go through, but c’mon! Pull yourself together! He’s a national icon!

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: Weak Boys – That’s Me

Fuck right off. At 1:52 seconds. That’s not…that can’t be…no, fuck off. It’s incredulous. The saviour of the Australian music biz, the shining light of hope in this world of corporate greed, a beacon of unbudging truth and integrity…It’s Weak Boys (and I’m in the shot as well, but that’s not quite as big a deal).

In Late November 2014, #summerdayz, Weak Boys, the band with the second best song and album of 2014, played a launch party at Rav and Steve’s place. Rav’s the drunk lunatic falling out of the window. Steve’s the bloke with the Bedroom Suck t-shirt, and acting cooler than a cucumber on Ambien.

The launch was Good Times Inc. and featured a bunch of legends, and the best songs of 2014, one of which was “That’s Me”. SPOD brought out his fucking long lens and captured the magic in real time, which was including, but not limited to, dogs, guitar solos and, “Chisel Cunt!”.

Weak Boys are playing this Sunday (FOR FREE!) as part of a Rice Is Nice party, at the Vic in Marrickville. Also appearing: Frowning Clouds, Summer Flake, Terrible Truths and Darts.

Top 10 Music Videos of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckons is the best of the best this year.

First, music videos. A dead medium. Who even the fuck watches this shit? It’s just a band wearing enough hair gel to freeze over hell, and badly lip-syncing to a song no one liked much in the first place. OR it’s a place where blood and gore thrives, and creativity is king. Here are the Top 10 Music Videos of the 2014, but first, some honourable mentions: White Hex (‘Paradise’), DZ Deathrays (‘Gina Works At Hearts’), SMILE (‘BLVD’), and Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders (‘Come On Back This Way’).

BONUS: Girl Talk & Freeway feat. Waka Flocka Flame

It seems strange to include a Girl Talk track in this blog, especially one that features human shitstain Waka Flocka Flame. I’ve never been a fan of kitschy rap that glorifies bullshit. But the visual ridiculousness of seeing a man like Waka sitting on a throne gesticulating with a recently dismembered arm, as Girl Talk beats up people on the street, is something so gloriously gonzo that it has to be included as one of the greatest audio-visual experiences of 2014.

10. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Cellophane

King Gizzard are the Spoon of garage rock – they just release really consistent, good records. Their two records of 2014, ‘Oddments’ and ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’ were pretty great, but the videos are what remained spectacular. “Hot Wax” was a solid contender, but it was “Cellophane” and its 3D video, that captured the cartoon-ish, Hanna-Barbera lunacy that they portray onstage. And if any song was going to act as the perfect vehicle for such a mindfuck, “Cellophane” would be it.

9. The Peep Tempel – Big Fish

The Peep Tempel are great at pumping out bloodthirsty tunes mopped straight from the floor of the seediest pub in town. They’re the kind of hard-working, sweaty band that plays loud, growling with menace. That’s probably why their clip for “Big Fish” is so great – it shows what the morning after a night out at a Peep Tempel is really like. Stumbling, trying to lit half of a cigarette, and raising eyebrows from every passerby.

8. Broadway Sounds – Something Sensual

Broadway Sounds came from nowhere, and released a fantastic EP of tangy and elastic synth jams. Then they released the video clip for “Something Sensual”, a Tim and Eric-esque sketch that just scrapes under the classification of porn. Strange burlesque folks in masks, Melbournite gymnastics and the ultimate ode to the constellations, “Something Sensual” manages to give you the weirdest boner of all time.

7. Blank Realm – Reach You on the Phone

Not only did Blank Realm unveil a 10/10 perfect album, and bring the keytar back from the furthest point of remembrance, but they also managed to release this fantastic video. The video easily re-creates all the billowing emotion and whirlwind romanticism, via a hued pastiche of purples, greens, pinks and yellows, and an abundance of fans (both the kind that blows air into your face, and the array of colourful characters who appear). There’s also the fantastic claymation that recalls the work of Adam Elliot (Harvey Krumpet). If you’re not sobbing at the end of this, you’re malfunctioning.

6. Bistro – DR NO feat Simo Soo

Straight outta Sydney, some of the best hip-hop you’ll hear all year – not only can Bistro provide music that doesn’t sound like something a lad from the North Shore spat onto a napkin, it also isn’t obviously inspired by American hip-hop either. Instead, it sounds thoroughly of its own time and place.

What’s more, he’s got a film clip that accurately depicts the kind of fucked up pace, flow and themes presented in DR NO. It’s frightening and acidic, worse than anything Walt Disney could come up with, a blend of schizophrenic gonzo-ism. When it hits Simo Soo’s rapid fire verse, your hands should be just blistering, white knuckled stubs of flesh.

5. Liam Finn – Burn Up The Road

One of the more feel-good clips of the year is Liam Finn’s “Burn Up the Road”. Yes, he is the kid of Neil Finn, but his style is defiantly his own. That comes through in the alternate (and infinitely cooler) future in which Liam Finn and Kirin J Callinan are best mates, then enemies on a autobahn motorbike ride to hell and back. It’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with more hockey pads and a liquid cool guitar riff.

4. Multiple Man – Persuasion

A lot of bands adopt the VHS approach these days, and it’s becoming a tad painful to see. It started out cool, but when everyone’s doing it, it sort of fucks up the novelty and greatness of it all. But with Multiple Man, they’ve cannibalised and evolved that CHS concept into something that’s both alluring and scary as hell. I imagine watching the bleached colours burrowing themselves into your eyes as the Campion twins purr along to squelchy beats and trickling synths is the same way sensation people felt after watching The Matrix for the first time. When New Order is getting swallowed by The Soft Moon like that to the fuzzy, white-noise head fuck of the “Persuasion” video, something inside of you says “Hey, probably not going to see some shit like that for a while”

3. Client Liaison – Free of Fear

Client Liaison toe a line that can easily cross into self-parody. They’re fantastic, but when you sound like a Prince and Michael Jackson-crossbreed being fed through a fax machine, and interpreted by Olivia Newton-John, there’s a large chance that there could be a mis-translation. However, these guys just write damn fine pop songs, and their videos are works of art. “Feed the Rhythm” borders on being one of the videos of the year, but it’s the grand randomness revealed with straight faces for the comic ages (try patting an alligator in the desert, and not cracking a smile), that ensures that the elaborate “Free of Fear” clip excels at being the No. 1 lavish homage and extension to the greatest pop era in history.

 2. Zanzibar Chanel – Mustn’t Evolve feat. Dungeon Posse

This video was released only mere weeks ago, but when it opens like a soap opera taking place in gangland warfare, and a brutal, eye-popping murder takes place before any music starts, then things look to be pretty amazing. “Mustn’t Evolve” is a torture-cry laden, synth delight, soaked in evil vocals and a cell playground for Melbourne’s finest to rap-squat and jiggle their way into infamy. It’s about as close to a Hunter S. Thompson wet dream as things go.

1. Collarbones – Turning

Not only is “Turning” the motherfucking JAM of 2014, an electronica glitch in the binary code that turns 0’s into Destiny’s Child and 1’s into Aphex Twin, but it has the best video of 2014 as well, for a plethora of reasons. Firstly, it’s got a celebrity cast, including Marcus and Travis of Collarbones, Doug and Russell of FISHING, FBi legend Frances Barrett, Marcus of Siberia Records, and Romi and Matt Banham, the greatest Internet sensations Australia has seen since Steve Irwin. Secondly, it’s directed by SPOD, a name that causes amateur filmmakers to quake in intimidated passion. Obviously, that means the clip is loaded with all sorts of crazy Internet craziness, like Brown Cardigan and Deep Internet Reddit made passionate love on a green screen. And thirdly, it has outfits that make like The Devil Wears Prada moved into a Health Goth store, andn has teh choreography of a ferocious mythological creature being taught to twerk to R Kelly, (I imagine SPOD was the one who taught said beast, via a My Fair Lady “The Rain in Spain” musical number).

Gig Review: The Blurst of Times Festival

Saturday 25th October @ The Factory Theatre

Simpsons quote. Straight from the go, you’re off to a good start mates. Add to that fact that almost every great guitar act in our country is on a Blurst of Time bill, and you’ve got every cat and their air guitar whizzing to buy a fucking ticket. I mean, people of ‘Straya, what more do you want? The government’s fucked (with the grand exception of Bill ‘Shortball’ Shorten), we’re paying through the nose for uni, and to top it all off, I’ve had a bad sinus infection all week. Really shitty stuff. So a day of DZ Deathrays and beer in Marrickville was basically the only cure, short of going on a bender with Bill Murray (a boy can dream).

Hockey Dad began the day with a short ‘n’ sweet set of feel good surf rock tunes. If you haven’t heard of these blokes, get around them, because they’ve got #nextbigthing written all over their peachy mugs. Zach’s got a voice like an angel, and Billy smashes his drums like he’s on a blitzkrieg, Lleyton Hewitt headband dripping with sweat by the end. A few muck-ups, but the smiles and lack of pretention from these blokes meant that their set was a loud, and thoroughly enjoyable, as good as watching Happy Gilmore the first time round.

Black Zeros followed, but unfortunately, sound issues fumbled their performance. The songs are tight, but performance was unsure, as lead woman Joe Jackson had trouble hearing herself. I mean, “Ride” and “That Boy” are fucking sick, but the dwindling between songs so early in the day made it hard for punters to stick around, and enjoy the usual Black Zeros carnival. Outside, Babaganouj were killing it, an amalgamation of Brissy indie-pop mixed with damn solid 90’s nerd-rock. Think of the dorky pop of Weezer, Superchunk and Kim Deal, thrown together with amazing songs like “Bluff” and “Love Loath Love You”. They had heads nodding along like the crowd were a bunch of bobble-heads. It was down-to-earth euphoric rock, something I’m not sure even existed until this point.

Sticking around on the outside stage, where a bunch of menacing clouds grumbled with menace, High-tails came and conquered with a slew of tight indie rock. High-tails seemed in more of a rock mood, as their songs boomed with a bit more bravado and oomph than usual. “Bending Over Backwards” and a cover of Cake’s “Never There” highlighted a band that knew how to marry pop sensibilities and rock with success. A divorce doesn’t seem likely in the near future, and there’s a strong hint at an LP coming out next year.

Step-Panther, (another band, another hyphen) hobbled unassumingly onto the stage. Just three blokes – a guitar, bass and a drumkit. And yet, these three guys turned an ordinary set up into one of the most impressive displays of musicianship to have been blazed into my skull in recent memory. Starting with debut LP cut “Never Again”, frontman Stephen Bourke was immediately sprawled on the floor, abusing his guitar like it was an Ike and Tina Turner situation all over again. Whiplash guitar ricocheted throughout the small domain of The Factory Theatre, and anyone within earshot perked up like a Chihuahua being mass-fed caffeine. Daniel Radburn is beating the shit out of the drum kit like he’s a 12 year old with the house to himself and a bright and sparkly National Geographic laying bare like the temptresses they are. And Zach, of Hockey Dad @fame, well, he was just looking good. Their set was a fiery ball-tearer, with a couple props to old schoolers like “Fight Like A Knight”, but mainly focusing on their new, gobsmackingly good record, ‘Strange But Nice’ (review here).

It was a party set through and through, a contorted mixture of thrash punk and pop knowledge, covered in gnatty noise and a genuine love, and ability, to rock the fuck out. For every awkward inner-teen out there, Step-Panther is the band you want to familiarise yourself with. They’re almost like a modern and local version of Bleach-era Nirvana, ruthless and primal, and Stephen Bourke makes for a picturesque Kurt Cobain, with his shoulder-connected-to-neck  solos being a sight worthy of the Bucket List. New singles “Nowhere”, “It Came From the Heart” and “User Friendly” were a shredder’s haven, and a reminder that Step-Panther are some of the last heartfelt headbangers in Sydney, possibly even Aus. Make sure you get down to their album launch (with Bearhug and Point Being!) at Goodgod on November 21st.

After exhilaration-incarnate, it felt like nothing could possibly match a Step-Panther show. Obviously, it’s been a while since I went to a SPOD show, and I’ve forgotten how one-of-a-kind this man, nay, GOD, is. Where Step-Panther are one of the ultimate rock bands, SPOD is the ultimate party band. I feel like that needs to be repeated -SPOD IS THE ULTIMATE PARTY BAND! NEVER MISS A SHOW FROM THIS GUY! EVER! EVER! EVER!

Armed with a battalion of all-black, sunnies-inside security guards (Steve’s #1 & #2, and old mate Nathan Wood) who never dropped their demeanour of seriousness and professionalism (sic), SPOD tore The Factory Theatre a new arsehole. Beginning with the song of our generation, “Deadshits”, SPOD’s set soon become something that people will talk about centuries from now, in hushed whispers, in case the legend himself blazes down from the heavens to destroy all human life with his hard-partying ways. To put it bluntly, the set was compromised entirely of legends. From young pup/legend Dom O’Connor being literally picked up and thrown around SPOD like a stripper on a pole during “Letz Dance”, to Dion Ford (Australia’s greatest guitarist/legend) coming onstage to crank out Oz’s favourite pub rock tune “Couple Of Drinks”, to old mate/legend Jules (of Rice is Nice one of the greatest labels to adorn our fair country) getting her waltz on to the finale and every pervert’s funky favourite “Electric Hips”. And I’d be lying to you if I said that getting on stage with pretty much every living legend the Australian music industry has seen for a singalong of “Boys Night” wasn’t one of the Top 5 Moments of my life. I entered the Factory a boy, and left a man, thanks to SPOD. The man is a saint.

After a sweat, party-filled few hours, it was time for Blank Realm, one of the main acts on the bill. After the release of their flawless pop record “Grassed Inn” earlier this year (review here), Blank Realm was a band that I physically could not withhold myself from seeing. Whilst the beginning of the set was marred by sound issues, primarily the bass thudding over the top of other instruments, things were abruptly fixed so that it was all Blank Realm awesomeness, all the time. Their set seemed to compromise of only a few songs, mostly of their latest album, but that’s hardly a complaint. My body was instantly entranced into twisting into an amalgamation of shapes I had no clue I was capable of. Maybe I was just trying to mimic the movements of the band themselves, in which they moved with poetic energy, jumping and grooving with artistic beauty. It was strange, and timelessly wonderful. Getting to see stuff like “Reach You On the Phone”, “Go Easy” and a sped-up “Falling Down the Stairs” (#songoftheyear) is something no ones forgetting any time soon. Summarisation: 2014 – year of the keytar. Never change, Blank Realm, never change.

Outside, a new and unruly beast was unfolding in the form of Velociraptor, fleshed out with a rare appearance from original members Shane and Simon of DZ Deathrays. Banshee cries were the first thing I really noticed from the set, followed by a ruckus on par with a football riot. Bodies flew everywhere, and it honestly felt like a tsunami of rock music had arrived. Whereas Velociraptor are garage-pop on record, the raw energy of earlier recordings was in sure-fire play during the set. As guitars reigned supreme, and the multi-limbed juggernaut of rock ‘n’ roll heaved on headbangers like “Cynthia”, “The Walk On By”,”Cool, Baby, Cool” and the anthemic “Ramona”, it was like an alternate ending from Jurassic Park, where the T-Rex doesn’t show up, and the kids aren’t so lucky. As the final chords rang out, and Jeremy Neale stood poised, with fist raised triumphantly above his lolling head, grin planted firmly on his mug, it was ultimately obvious that Velociraptor had fucking won.

After a truly sweeping performance, TV Colours graced the stage for a very different, but similarly affecting, display of amazing. TV Colours released the best album of last year, and they wilfully proved it. They had walls of sound at their disposal, tearing through songs like “The Neighbourhood” and “Lost Highway” with a virtuosity and newfound, dare I say it, professionalism. Their fury was there, but it was more controlled, funnelled into the seething audience of bobbing heads. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that “Purple Skies, Toxic River” will be mentioned in the same breath as “Primary Colours”, or “Havilah” in the future. It’s a modern masterpiece, and seeing a band as talented and great as that dominate a stage is a pleasure as always. If you haven’t seen TV Colours rip through “Bad Dreams” or “Beverly” and let your jaw drop to the floor in utter amazement, you haven’t lived.

Die! Die! Die! seemed like a bit of a left-field choice for the day, the only Kiwi band on the bill. But they had a new orgasmic album to show off, and you’d have to be a total dillweed to miss out on these guys bombastically destroying expectations. Die! Die! Die! are one of the few punk bands left that can completely blow you away every single time you see them, pounding expectations to the ground as dangerously as frontman Andrew Wilson behaves on stage. Perched precariously on a stack of amps, Wilson cradles the microphone and bellows “A.T.T.I.T.U.D” with a conviction that belies belief. A song over seven years old, Wilson only needed to jump into the crowd and be assaulted by eager punters willing to scream the celebrated chorus, for the epiphany to click that Die! Die! Die! will never die. They’ll forever live on in a myth of wholesome awesome, a preservation of smart punk rock that shames anything that tries to come near it. The members are performers and musicians that have no contemporaries, lambasting temples of a bygone era.

 

To watch Die! Die! Die! in action is a sincere honour, a pinnacle of what humans can do when they really, really, really wanna tear the world a new arsehole. Although new tracks “Get Hit” and “She’s  Clear” shook The Factory to its hinges, it was old timers like “Wasted Lands” and “Ashtray! Ashtray!” that forced the crowd into a hurricane frenzy, centred on the eye-of-the-storm, Andrew Wilson. It can not be overstated how pivotal to your existence it is that you, dear reader, go and see Die! Die! Die! in action.

Cruising to a nice little backstage loft, watching DZ Deathrays side of stage was a set that will be ingrained into my memory for a fair while (Blurst of Times seems to be full of those, hey). After a lengthy UK tour, the duo added an extra guitar and a moustache to Simon’s head for their extraordinary set of euphoric rock. However, there was something a else about the performance. No, DZ were fairly perfect, they didn’t fuck up, and were rockstars to an inch. But that was the issue – these guys should be headlining stadiums, blowing out eardrums worldwide. The fact that they came back to Australia to dwindle with the mere mortals…I mean, how are you meant to react to something like that?

Watching with swollen eyes, every onlooker became enraptured with DZ’s sweaty thrusts of pummelling songs, mainly drawn from the pool of talent that is their sophomore “Black Rat”. Every song was a debilitating lesson in how to be a motherfucking rockstar, from classics like “The Mess Up”, to the slow-burning epic “Northern Lights” and a finale of epic proportions in “Gina Works At Hearts”. Watching DZ is a heart-in-mouth experience, where you want to vomit, cry and mosh all at the same time, where fist-pumping and deranged shouting is par for the course.

After a sincerely great fucking day, Hard-Ons finish the night with a heated dosage of their signature metal/punk/thrash expertise. For those who are unfamiliar, The Hard-Ons are a classic band of Australian lore, as integral to our musical landscape as Radio Birdman, The Saints and The Scientists. Getting to lose my Hard-Ons virginity was something I can only ever be thankful for. They swung through songs with riffs sent straight from another dimension, reaching into the bowels of my brain and throttling the joy factor. There weren’t as many punters there as the Hard-Ons probably required, but really that just gave the more dedicated few room to move and stand in awe of the wicked trio, and insane musicianship of Australia’s coolest band.Ray Ahn proved to those there that all you need to be in one of Australia’s most loved bands is a working pair of footy shorts, a flowing man of hair, and a certificate from Shredding School.

Fuck, so I gotta summarise this experience, right? Paragraph after paragraph of praising the shit out of all the bands I managed to cram into a day, and I gotta come up with something witty AND all-encompassing? I think I’ll stick with the words of everyone’s hero Dom O’Connor, who described Blurst as “… a house party”. And indeed it was – you had mates crammed next to each other, love pouring from every socket, and some of the best bands this country has ever seen playing enormously tight and friendly sets. Although clashes prevented sets from Bloods, Bearhug, Donny Benet and a few others from leaking into my pupils, and Low Life cancelled last minute, and a few sound issues tore away from otherwise perfect shows, The Blurst of Times made an excellent debut in Sydney. From booking the best and loudest, to having minimal deadshit attendance, and relatively cheap drinks and food, Blurst of Times has gone down as one hell of a festival.

Album Review: Donny Benet – Weekend At Donny’s

_Weekend At Donny's

Can we all just, for one second, take a minute to marvel at the artwork that is the album artwork for ‘Weekend at Donny’s’? Surely, that is a work that will be going in the pool room, or at the very least, be nominated as one of the images that will convey the best parts of humanity to visiting alien races. For those who aren’t as Donny mad as they should be, Donny is old mate in the middle there, with the sunnies and corpse pose. To the right is Jack Ladder with an expression stolen right off McCauley Caulkin’s shit eating Home Alone debut, and SPOD is looking like a cocky bastard. Man, I can’t wait ’til the whole crew finds out that these guys were totally fakin’ it! Then they’ll get sent to jail! And their careers will be in tatters! And they’ll never be able to re-adjust to regular society again due to the inhumane and extravagantly cruel conditions of Australian prisons. HAHAH, what a bunch of idiots!

On a less sadistic note, this album is Donny’s third record, and his first in which he doesn’t take the spotlight. Whereas his other records featured tracks that the producers of Knight Rider and Miami Vice were kicking themselves for not getting as theme songs, ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ instead allows for Donny to take the backseat. It’s almost like he is Kit, and he has a revolving guest-star  of Hasselhoff’s.

The results of ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ are both diverse and riveting, plunging into strange territories that seem like lost goldmines of eras that never existed. There’s this weird anachronism thing going on, like an episode of Quantum Leap that’s been taken over by the embodiment of sex. The guests range from the local to the high-profile: IsabellaManfredi from The Preatures, SPOD, Jack Ladder, Geoffrey O’Connor, Kirin J Callinan and Elana Stone of All Our Exes Live In Texas.

Now, some of these collaborations work better than others. For example, “The Edge”, which features Kirin J Callinan, is a match made in heaven. Or rather, a match made from the greatest porn parody of Star Trek, where the budget was concentrated on the soundtrack. It’s a song where the lyrics “I wanna fill you up with my love” sounds like the greatest thing a partner could whisper in your ear. Add the space-exploration bass riff and panting synths, and you’ve got the perfect hot and heavy song. You can so easily picture this in a live setting, both characters back-to-back, Donny slapping his bass with a wry smile and Kirin J Callinan absentmindedly flicking his mullet, whilst a blinding amount of cameras shoot their beams for what has to be the shot of the century.

Other parts of the record stand incredibly tall and , “Sex Tourist” with Jack Ladder and the SPOD collaborations. The former is the perfect palette for Jack Ladder’s baritone to sink to its most immoral depths, a song packed with humour and loneliness. The latter contributions, “Gentleman’s Choice” and “Fantasies”, are probably the closest thing that resemble old-school Donny, rumbling bass funkadelics, heavy breathing and Donny’s special brand of hedonism (and vocals).

The only issue to be had here is mild, in that some songs on here resemble the guests’ own projects more so than as temporary visitors to Donny Land. Sure, there’s the Benet aesthetic there, of whispered lushness and trickling, unreal bass slaps, but “Endless”, which holds Isabella Manfredi’s vocals, and “Never Alone” come off like Preatures and Geoffrey O’Connor songs that have been Back-to-the-Future’d a few times, and picked up some 80’s sprinkle from all that time warp-age.

However, this is hardly a complaint. When the cast is as arrayed and talented as this, scoring a really good Preatures song on a Donny Benet album is just a bonus treat amongst the gold already there. When you’re submerged in this sensual world of Donny’s, it’s hard, painful even, to pull yourself out. Even though I was born a decade after the fact, the 80’s has that sheen to it, and Donny exploits it for a new and eager audience. And with these guests, he surmounts that problem of novelty wearing off. Now, his supreme talent as instigator and philanthropist of retro-sound can be completely appreciated for the genius that it is.

‘Weekend at Donny’s’ is out on Rice is Nice Records now. Donny’s bringing the touch to Brighton Up Bar on October 10th and 11th, with You Beauty and Food Court respectively. Go to one. Go to both. But go. Because his name is Donny Benet, and he will bring you happiness.

Gig Review: SPOD

Friday, 19th September @ The Lansdowne

The name SPOD is synonymous with the descriptor of ‘fucking legend’, in much the same way that Bruce Willis is synonymous with ‘short-tempered and/or haired badass’. His live performances are renowned around Sydney and/or the world as being some of the funnest, most original and heart-attack inducing extravagances this side of watching Hannibal Burress fight a lion. He can turn an otherwise placid crowd into a single entity of happiness and party-vibes, all with the tap of a drum machine and the hurling of the word ‘CUNT!’ at whoever’s not seven pills deep and truffle-shuffling their way into history’s books.

But that was not to be the stage set for SPOD’s album launch tonight. To celebrate the release of his frankly brilliant ‘Taste the Sadness’ record, a reworking of his bonafide classic ‘Taste the Radness’, and an ode to the plights of no longer being able to handle a beer bong/taxes, SPOD laid out a fine dining experience the likes which made all the local RSL’s green with envy. However, the tellies were not tuned into the horses and footy, but rather to SPOD’s exceptional ability to get turnt.

But, where previous SPOD shows featured popped collars and rabble-rousing (does anyone actually say that anymore #bringbackrabblerousing), tonight featured a real mature elagence. Only a night before, Sydney’s mulleted and mohawked finest gathered to mosh to healthy sets from The Friendsters, Destiny 3000, Miss Destiny and TV Colours. Now, the sweat and puke stains were covered with linen tablecloths, red candles, and a decor that screamed home by 9 o’clock. There were even some lighting fixtures ripped from the local bowlo. It was a paradise.

SPOD wastes no time in gathering everyone’s attention towards him. Betrothed in a chequered emerald bathrobe that’s seen it’s fair share of depressed, lonely mornings, the set started with swelling strings and old mate handing out his own beef jerky to those lucky enough to be seated. Candles lit, melancholy set into his face, SPOD begins his show with the one-two emotional cock-punch of “Totally Sad” and “Last Dance”, the latter which saw him shed his bed-ware for a dignified suit. You’d be forgiven for having tears running down your cheeks, as these songs are enough to crack a tearful sob from even the moist stoic Queen’s Guard. Even bogans don’t stand a chance against SPOD’s truth bombs.

The set revolved almost entirely around the new album, although by no means was that a bad thing. Whilst the album is rooted in a special kind of sorrow and self-realisation, SPOD has a unique ability to invigorate songs and involve the audience. He also made do of a few special guests, notably Richard Cartwright from Richard In Your Mind and his toy megaphone/summoner of Satan on “Devastated”, a “song for the kids” cos they love the reggae. Dion Ford of Palms also got on shredding duties for 2012 standalone single “Coupla Drinks”, SPOD’s ode to having a few cheeky ones with ya mates. To describe that moment as euphoric would be an understatement, as every single thing with a pair of lips bellowed the refrain with their head keeled back like they were busting out “AH ZABENYA”.

Finishing out the night was “Electric Hips”, a funk-ified update of the hidden punk track “Electric Lipz” off ‘Taste the Radness’. Whether he was genuinely pissed off with the sound dude, or because we simply weren’t gettin’ jiggy enough, SPOD didn’t start the track until the whole crowd was sufficiently fucked ‘n’ funky. It was here that SPOD hit his peak, running around like a coke-binged Gary Busey replaying his career-defining on Point Break in the confines of a jail cell. SPOD was reckless and hilarious, damning those in his way, including an enthusiastic dude that got cocked in the head with a microphone and a lady who ended up with all of SPOD’s chest in her face after refusing the get out of the way from his chaos.

Panting, sweaty and naked. No, I’m not describing SPOD, I’m describing the patrons. Despite being forced to sit down and packed in, I’d dare to find an attendee who wasn’t fucking stoked that SPOD was back on the market. The godfather of partying has lost neither his way nor his humour, and tore the Lansdowne a new arsehole. God Bless SPOD, and may he never lose his crown. Even when he’s breathing through a tube, and confined to a wheelchair, this guy will be a better party-goer than you can ever hope to be. All you can do is hope to catch him next time he graces the stage.

Top 5 Records w/ SPOD

There’s a reason why I always attach the prefix “Old Mate” when  talk about old mate SPOD. It’s because, although I’ve never met him, the guy is like Sydney’s father of good music, constantly churning out the hits for us to shake our booty to. He’s diverse, unpredictable and came out with a song called “Deadshits”. There is literally nothing more you can love about the guy.

Now, for all those that are unaware, SPOD recently came out with a bloody brilliant new record called ‘Taste the Sadness’, an adult re-imagining of his classic debut ‘Taste the Radness’. One of the best songs on there, a bonafide tear-jerker, is the first track “Last Dance”, which perfectly personifies its title, in that it is something heartbreaking and melancholy, but at the same time, leaves nothing unchecked. It’s just a really open and honest song, and if you were going to indulge in a last dance, “Last Dance” would be pretty bloody perfect to have a final waltz to.

Because SPOD is a bloody legend, I asked him if he’d want to do his Top 5 Records that he’d have his last dance to, and he replied with a surprisingly deep and   meaningful list, especially for a guy who makes us dance to the tune of “Get your fuck on, get-get  your fuck on”. Cheers SPOD you bloody legend!

Top 5 Records that SPOD would have his Last Dance to

01: Ween – Any album up to and including White Pepper

Ween were basically flawless from 1990 to 2000. 10 years of inspiring perfection that didn’t give a shit about anyone or anything asides from pure songwriting perfection & ultimate bravery. I don’t know if anyone still thinks they’re a novelty band, but if they do, they’re probably a total deadshit who likes the current Foo Fighters. It’s a bit of a kick in the nuts of my own mortality that Ween broke up. If two perfectly mismatched geniuses can’t remain best friends forever, then what chance do the rest of us have?

02: Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson

I bought this record as a young man solely because of the cover of an out of focus Harry in a bathrobe. Who was this guy who dares to put such a deadshitty image on his album? Little did I know at that time that it’s one of the greatest albums of all time and Nilsson is a hilarious & touching legend. Nilsson was the original Ween, he loved dancing with the absurd just as much as writing a perfect song and could do both like no one else and planted the seed in the importance of adult pride.

03: Beastie Boys – Pauls Boutique

What a masterpiece. I remember when this came out, I was still totally juiced on Licenced to Ill and the idea of these 3 brats spraying beer on the dicks of the world. Along with the rest of their fans, I wasn’t ready for such a mature step into this world that they and the dust brothers created. This gave birth to a lot of music I loved that came after it, and also a lot of Fat Boy Slim pieces of shit, but man this album was a bolt of lighting, and still sounds fresh as the day it landed. It was such a huge flop when it came out that I got it for $5 on vinyl. Nice. It also put me onto more good albums from its samples than any thing else I’ve come in contact with.

04: Black Moth Super Rainbow – Dandelion Gum

When I stumbled across this album on some blog in around 2008, I had kind of given up finding another band to obsess over, thinking I’d grown out of that part of my life and was destined to float through the rest of my days just recycling past loves till the end of time. Then this came along, a perfect mix of everything I loved up to that point. VHS Video Stores, Hip Hop, Psych Pop, Vocoders & cool songs from a faceless dude. A future primitive dance party for lonely dudes in the summertime.

05: Beck – Mellow Gold

Again, sure he’s got technically better albums in Mutations, Midnight Vultures & Odelay which are all masterpieces, but Mellow Gold, along with Weens Pure Guava, were displays that ideas are the most important things to have as long as you have a 4 track and a room to record them in. This was back before your telephone could record an album, kids. It was a bloody revolution! It sounds so personal and close, like a best friend just gave you a tape they made, which just so happens to sound like the future of Bob Dylan joining the Beastie Boys.