Video: The Ocean Party – Back Bar

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Another year, another Ocean Party record – it’s the stuff that helps folks like myself battle through these freezing winters. When the frostbite sets in, just know that the OP Crew will be personally delivering one of the records of the year any day now. And so, without further ado, take off the gloves and check out their latest, “Back Bar”, from their forthcoming sixth album.

After pumping out album after album, “Back Bar” shows that The Ocean Party have perfected their brand of pop. Close your eyes, and seep into that familiar Ocean Party sound of crisp guitars and honeyed vocals.

Then open those eyes and witness the terror of their new video – it’s David Cronenberg meets jangle-pop! A body horror film brought to you by Melbourne’s favourite sons! I’ve never been so repulsed and turned on in my entire life.

Get lubed up and catch The Ocean Party when they swing through town for a free show at the Union Hotel on the 9th of July, with old mates Cool Sounds.

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New: Shining Bird – Helluva Lot

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Friends, comrades, lovers, enemies. Come together. Sit down, have a beer. Have two beers, you cheeky bastard. Chatter amongst yourselves – “How’s Suzie? She must be in primary school now, yeah?” – catch up, reminisce! But when I press play, you had all better shut up and focus every single one of your five senses on this new one I got for ya. Because this…this is a hit I tell ya, and if you’re not paying attention, then the only person who misses out is you.

This is a band removed from the Big Smoke, and you can hear it. There’s not a hint of the city smog in frontman Dane Taylor’s vocals that otherwise rattles throughout that throats of suburban bands. There’s a density in the music that recalls the thick of the Australian bush, a stronghold of eucalyptus guitars and synths that sparkle like the sun peeking over the Three Sisters. That’s an image that couldn’t possibly be perpetrated by some suit-clad city-slickers.

“Helluva Lot” gives you pause, as it sinks into your skin. It’s a refreshing blast of energy, but not like a manufactured caffeine hit – more like the graze of scorching dose of Vitamin D followed by a skinny dip in a secluded bath out in the middle of fuck knows. It’s a sound that hasn’t been this refined and powerful since The Triffids and The Church were doing it. Stoke the campfire, keep the laughs flowing, and hit repeat on this absolute gem.

Shining Bird play Newtown Social Club on June 8th, tix are here

Interview: Shining Bird

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A deep voice that makes the velvet vocals of James Earl Jones quiver in jealousy. Shimmering arrangements that stretch further than the Nullarbor. A video clip that features Steve Irwin-defying snake-wrangling. Who could compile such a completely incredible resume? You bet your arse that I’m talking about Shining Bird.

If all that wasn’t enough, The Bird have been kicking goals elsewhere. They’ve nabbed a FBi Radio Song of the Year nomination for their new track “Rivermouth” (vote here), played a killer show at The Union in Newtown over the weekend, and are going to be heading up two shows over the next two weeks: The Heritage Hotel in Bulli on Thursday, 26th November (w/ Tiny Ruins and Flowertruck, tix here) and Fairgrounds Festival in Berry on the 5th of December (w/ Father John Misty, Royal Headache, Unknown Mortal Orchestra + more, tix here).

Before all this goes down, I got the opportunity to pry open the skull of frontman Dane Taylor, Ray Liotta in Hannibal style, and ask about lengthy tunes, Footrot Flats,

R: Your new song “Rivermouth” is one of the shorter singles you guys have released, even though it comes in at four and a half minutes. Are you working on compressing your songs, or is that just a coincidence?

D: I think it’s just a coincidence on this occasion. Generally our songs take a long time to unfold. We don’t really ever know until the last mix, exactly how long the song will be.

R: What attracts you to writing those longer songs?

D: It just seems to work out that way. We like to cover a lot of different terrain during a song.

R: Longer songs seem to be having a renaissance, with Gang of Youths and Roland Tings being two of the standouts bands of 2015. Why do you think audiences are turning back to the longer, in depth songs, especially at a time where everything feels like it needs to be compact and short to keep people’s attention.

D: I feel like I must be pretty out of touch with what audiences are into at present. I would have thought attention spans were still at an all time low. That’s nice to hear; perhaps people are starting to crave those deeper experiences again.

R: The song sees a return to that classic lush Shining Bird sound. With the upcoming album, are there any surprises for fans of the usual Shining Bird sound? 

D: There will be quite a few surprises but it’s unmistakably a Shining Bird record.

R: “Rivermouth” packs in a lot of unconventional instruments, including that string section. Are there any other sounds and instruments you look forward to bringing into the Shining Bird fold?

D: We have definitely expanded the palette. Lots of orchestral instruments and didgeridoo

R: You guys also released an awesome t-shirt in conjunction with the single, with Dog from Footrot Flats on the cover. What’s your history with that comic?

D: We loved the comics as kids, and were inspired after a recent revisit of the film to do our own spin on that classic character. We gave ‘Dog’ wings as we knew he’d be a bird fan.

R: Did you have to get permission from Murray Ball?

D: All he wanted was a t-shirt!

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R: Triple J have been doing a thing called Aus Band T-Shirt Day, where they encourage people to wear Australian Band T-Shirts. What are your thoughts on that?

D: It’s a great way to promote and support Australian music! Such a good idea. ..Did we mention we have some new shirts for sale? [Interjection: You can buy ’em here if you so desire]

R: You’ll be finishing up the single launches for Rivermouth at Fairgrounds Festival. What do you reckon about a big festival coming to a regional town like Berry?

D: I think it can be really good for those small towns, just as long as the festival-goers clean up after themselves. Lets keep Australia beautiful! The more quality boutique festivals outta the big cities the better!

R: It’s looking like you’ll have quite a big stage to play on. Is that a relief from the days where you’d have all six of you jammed onstage?

D: Make that seven! We just welcomed the sax maestro Michael Slater to the bird, so yes – im sure we will be loving that bit of extra room on stage. Although Al (guitar) always seems to make the most of any sized stage, usually by climbing all over the PA or jumping into the crowd.

R: Finally, Fairgrounds has got such a crazy lineup. Is there anyone on there you’re particularly excited to see?

D: The lineup is quality! Really excited to see Father John Misty & Royal Headache just to name a few..

Video: Shining Bird – Rivermouth

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Species of Australian aviary crossfaded over our natural fauna. Alastair Webster jamming on a guitar in faded black and white. Dramatic irony involving a wife waiting for her husband to come home, unaware the he’s neck deep in his steering wheel. Yeah, you’re watching a Shining Bird video clip, all right.

However, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll guess the ending to the clip. Seriously, it has to be one of the greatest, most inspiring tales committed to screen, an Australian story that beckons an in-depth journalist feature from Mr. Stefanovic himself. Sorry, ‘Shine’ – you’re no longer the most beautiful ‘Strayan story ever. Say hello to “Rivermouth”.

Shining Bird are playing for free at The Union Hotel on the 20th of this month (supported by Wild Honey and Bearhug), and then they’ll be at the Heritage Hotel in Bulli on the 26th (supported by FLOWERTRUCK). Oh, and if you live in Melbourne and want to hear some decent music for once in your pitiful lives, head to the Shadow Electric on the 6th – Ali Barter and Cool Sounds will be along for the ride as well.

Video: Gold Class – Bite Down

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“Bite Down” was one of the biggest highlights from Gold Class’ debut record. Now, it’s got some visual accompaniment for that audio pleasure, in the form of the Melbournites providing a glimpse into the sort of concentrated post-punk they deliver when they play live.

Shuddering projections greet the viewer, echoing the driven, clenched atmosphere within the band’s music, specifically frontman Adam Curley’s gulping vocals. “Bite Down” is best played so loud that you’re swallowed, whilst you glare into the video, trying to blind and confuse yourself as much as physically possible.

Gold Class will be launching their record, ‘It’s You’ at Brighton Up Bar on Friday October 23rd, with support from Death Bells and Yaws.

Album Review: The Ocean Party – Light Weight

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Let’s face it: The Ocean Party are the equivalent of Bruce Willis in Die Hard. At first, its a back-to-basics overhaul of the terrorist plot to make “dolewave” a part of the cultural lexicon. Now, The Ocean Party are crafting incredible songs that are essentially trampolining cars into helicopters, creating mammoth explosion after explosion of exhaustingly great pop music. However, unlike everyone’s favourite action films featuring a bald bloke in his late 50’s improbably surviving everything, The Ocean Party have kept the integrity of their franchise, improving and exploring new territory, whilst retaining the original qualities that made them so beloved in the first place.

The qualities mentioned above are thus (how fucking great is the word thus?): comforting jangling melodies, a melting pot of songwriting voices, the occasional burst of saxophone, and genuine poetry in their lyrics. On ‘Light Weight’, The Ocean Party sound more convincing and stirring than ever before, establishing their own unique stamp on guitar pop. No longer do they sound like a band that have been inspired  by The Go-Betweens and The Triffids, but rather, they sound like a band that will go on to inspire. The key ingredient, at least from what I can hear, is the constant stream of self-doubt that peppers The Ocean Party’s lyrics.

Take for example the moving title-track, which is probably one of the most tear-gouging songs released this year. Forget about your power ballads, all you need is The OP Crew sighing “You said I’ll see you soon, I said I wasn’t sure, there was everything and nothing everywhere, then I had the idea that I deserved even more”. Has flitting romance been described that well before? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. I’m finding it really hard to think of another example when choking back the tears.

This theme of personal crisis isn’t necessarily something committed to wandering melodies and sighing vocals. “Guess Work” pops with an exuberant chorus, even when discussing a bloke getting blown to pieces in the middle of the street (and to think people were doubting my Die Hard analogy). “Phone Sex” grooves on a rhythm that could have been ripped from a macabre detective show from the late 80’s. And “Greedy” practically hurtles along, bright guitar lines clashing against the persona of a clueless boss.

However, as the album draws to a close, The Ocean Party retreat into darker territory, and shut down their record with possibly one of the finest songs of their careers in “Real Life”. A plodding monologue that blossoms into a careening mantra of fatigue, this is a song that bemoans the abundance of normality and squeezes in a reference to wanking. Surely, this is the greatest pop song of our generation?

If you put the careers of myself and The Ocean Party side by side, you’ll only end up depressed. Whereas I’ve plunged from obnoxious wanker to unbearable fuckwit, these guys have blossomed from local darlings to one of the most damn fine songwriting sextets this country has produced, reaching a professional highlight in ‘Light Weight’. And they’re from Wagga Wagga! The Ocean Party are not only the extended Bruce Willis metaphor that we deserve, but the one we desperately need.

‘Light Weight’ is out now on Spunk Records, and you can grab it here. You can read an interview between Jordan ‘King of the Keyboard’ Thompson and myself here.

Interview: The Ocean Party

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#tbw to when I briefly replaced Jordan in The Ocean Party. 

I’ve got a long history with Melbourne’s The Ocean Party, and their various side projects, but what it really boils down to is the fact that I’ve got a big ol’ rager for their music. Half their albums are decent introductions to this new boom of jangle pop we’ve been having of late in Aus, and the other half soar at the top as examples of what the rest of these strummers should hope to sound like one day.

The Ocean Party have got their fifth record, ‘Light Weight’, coming out this Friday on Spunk Records, and they’ll be swinging by The Vic in Marrickville for a cheeky free show that same night. Support comes from Mere Women, Cool Sounds and Dog Rock pioneers Weak Boys. Rest of the tour dates can be found here.

Before The OP Crew stop by Sydney, I sent a few q’s through to keyboardist Jordan (who I briefly replaced), and actually got some really solid a’s back:

1. You’ve been on Spunk for about four albums now – why are you so at home there?

We just have such an easy going relationship with Spunk. We send Aaron a record and he put’s it out. I don’t think we could work with a label that operates any different.

2. Do you think having everyone contribute songs to The Ocean Party is positive or detrimental?

I think its really positive. Objectivity is so hard to achieve on your own – as is an alternate subjectivity for that matter. Our inclusiveness means that we have a five-layer filter to run a song through. It can be tremendously reassuring to know that everyone is invested an idea- and alot easier to get things from the bedroom laptop into a more fleshed out form. The other aspect of our work style is that it encourages diversity from a base level. We all write differently, so even basic ideas are flavoured by each songwriter. I like to think this gives us more of a multi-focal narrative in our music as a whole.

3. Being so prolific and touring so much, are you afraid of creative exhaustion?

We’ve got a good cycle going now in terms of writing, playing, travelling and recording. Touring is a huge part of things for us, not only because we like playing around the country, but because it gives us alot of time to nut things out. When we were touring for Split we were already listening to demos for Soft Focus in the van, and when we head off this month we’ll be listening to our new demos. Alot of very valuable conversations and decisions come out of travelling together. So our schedule allows for regular shifts from creative to analytical rather than exhausting either.

4. When you went up to BIGSOUND recently, how did you view the conference as a whole? Is it good for Australian music to have that sort of annual event?

I’m sure if you are a buzz band BIGSOUND is great, we aren’t a buzz band and I would say we are all pretty happy about that. In saying that I think we all had fun at BIGSOUND and the one panel I went to was really good.

5. With half of you working in other bands and in pubs, how much of Melbourne’s music scene rubs off into your own band?

It’s immesurable really, not because it’s gargantuan, but more because its hard to trace your own influences. People outside the band might be able to see the ties better than us. We see alot of local music and know alot of the people involved, inevitably this must have an impact on us somehow. Even seeing something that you don’t like can be influential. You never really know not to do something until you see someone else do it.

6. You’ve always done a lot of regional touring – why do you do that, when it makes more sense financially and crowd wise to just do capital cities? Does it have anything at all to do with coming from Wagga?

Well, there isn’t a huge divide financially. On some previous tours our country gigs paid our way through. We’ve been going to some places regularly for some years now and see alot of familiar faces, which is a good reason to come back. For the Light Weight tour we’ll be seeing alot of smaller towns, which means we won’t have to drive huge stints and we’ll get to see new places. We are playing in Wagga on the way home, which will be nice too. Coming from Wagga I suppose we have a pretty good grasp on what to expect from a country town so maybe we have been more willing to go to them than other bands might be.

7. You do a lot touring in Aus, but haven’t done much outside the county, except for that small US tour last year. Is international touring something you’ve be more keen on in the future.

Sure. Liam is off touring with Totally Mild in Europe at the moment, so he’s scouting it out for us. We had a great time in the U.S.A. last October, so we’d love to go back. It’s costly with six people, so we’re at the mercy of our funds, but hopefully next year we’ll head overseas again.

8. You got to meet Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening/K Records) on that U.S. trip – who else would you like to stumble into on a tour?

Yeah, meeting Calvin was pretty out of the blue. We really haven’t run into many other celebs. Liam saw Rob Zombie and John 5 at the airport. We saw Leo Sayer eating a toastie in Mayfield (possibly not Leo Sayer). The other day we ran out of petrol in a little Victorian town called Cressy. We met a really unhelpful fat guy there who may have been a local celebrity. I don’t know who else we’d hope to meet.

9. You did that small Aussie tour with Nathan Roche a while back – do you miss Nathan Roche? I miss Nathan Roche.

We miss Nathan Roche every day. There is nothing that can fix that. He is liable to appear in any town at anytime though, so maybe he’ll be the celeb we stumble into?

10. Snowy once tried really hard to refer to The Ocean Party as the OP Crew. When can the Australian public expect the inevitable name change, and diversion into Aus hip hop territory?

Mark has already chartered into Aus Hip Hop Territory and irrevocably changed the game with his Crowman Mixtape: Murder of Crow (2014). The Ocean Party has its finger in alot of pies Ryan, don’t dig too deep. OP Crew is a cool name though. When we’re past our prime we might head over to christian rock and become The Devotion Party.

11. When that dole wave playlist got announced on Apple Music, did you shit the bed and think we’ve made it?

I, until now, was not aware of that. I’ll put on the rubber bedsheets tonight and have a look. We made a cool $11.00 from Spotify last year, so Apple Music can’t be so bad.

New: Shining Bird – Rivermouth

Shining BirdFun fact: I was hanging out with my good friend Sean Connery (of James Bond fame), and I saw that Shining Bird had a new single out. After playing it to him, he leaned back into his throne, took a sip from his chalice and smirked: “Thash a tashty birrrd. Are they from the leshure coasht?”, to which I replied, “Yes, Sean. Yes they are”. Staring off into the distance, blue eyes glazing over, he murmurs to himself “Thish ish the besht band I’ve ever heard”. Never have truer words been spoken.

After waiting two long years for more material after their stunning ‘Leisure Coast’ album, Shining Bird have unveiled the shimmering beauty of “Rivermouth”. It’s got all the usual delights that the South Coast legends have become well-known for: a wide range of delicate instrumentation, immersive soundscapes, and, of course, the voice that’s broken a thousand hearts – the voice of one Dane Taylor. Jesus, every time he opens his mouth, you can hear the swish of heads turning and jaws hitting the floor. In a climate where Tony Abbott can enact the same policies as that of Nazi Germany, it’s nice to sit back and submerge yourself in some objectively beautiful music. 

New: Gold Class – Life As A Gun

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It looks like there’s a ginger in this band, so I’m already on board. But then you go and add their music to the mix, and I’m falling for Gold Class like every nerd in the world is falling for the Batman vs. Superman trailer. Gothic like Gotham, Gold Class fuse grit and bleeding soulfulness with ease, feeding pain into their post-punk like a witch buttering up Hansel And Gretel before a tasty luncheon of bones.

Sure, Gold Class lean a little too much on the Morrisey for my liking, but the jagged guitars that spit and thrash between mournful cries leaves a wake of broken goth hearts in their wake, including mine. It’s tough music that’s allowed itself to be vulnerable, and that is the sweetest spot of all. Plus, the bloke can fucking sing, and “Life As A Gun” reveals itself to be something with actual substance, intensely intimate and bare, as opposed to this shit.

Gold Class are making the trek North for VOLUMES festival w/ Jack Ladder, The Laurels, Day Ravies etc. Pretty, pretty decent.

New: The Ocean Party – Guess Work

It feels like every 15 minutes there’s something new to post from The Ocean Party camp. But instead of going for the King Gizzard route, The Ocean Party remain consistent in their excellence. There will be no 10 minute jizzy-james – there will only be greatness for miles around.

For their fifth record, The Ocean Party have thrown a few potential spanners in the works, a change to the formula. The boys have moved out of their ramshackle bedroom studio, and taken shelter in in an actual professional studio. WHAT THE SHIT? Can they do that? Are they allowed to do that? There must be some sort of stipulation in their contract, right? FOR FUCK’s SUCK, THE WHOLE DOLEWAVE UNIVERSE IS FALLING APART! WHAT THE HELL IS A WHITE SUBURBAN KID MEANT TO BELIEVE IN NOW?

Well shove this down your trembling throat, because “Guess Work” is tremendous. With opening lines concerning murder, saxophone intrusions, and a triumphant guitar solo, it feels like The Ocean Party are finally going to become the bouncers at the jangle-pop nightclub. Congrats, guys, I’ve got a VIP section waiting for ya.

The Ocean party are coming through Sydney to launch the single with Beef Jerk! It’s happening at The Vic on the Park in Marrickville on the 25th of July. BE THERE!