Punk Album Reviews: HANNAHBAND + Bare Grillz + Schotel van de Dag + Mock Duck + X Is Y

Anyone who’s visited this site knows that punk rock holds a very dear, very special place in my heart. I’m pretty sure I listen to Black Flag at least once a day. It’s a really great way to wind down, honestly! Anyway, although the following bands aren’t going to be the next Black Flag, at least they’re all better than Green Day, post-Dookie era.

 

HANNAHBAND-Honey, I’m A Bad Singer

Honestly, I feel really bad that I haven’t put this review up earlier. This album is one of the best punk rock items to be bred into the consciousness of Sydney existence since I found out that Jonathan Boulet had a pretty great decent hardcore band (they’re called Snakeface, if you gave a shit). Anyway, this is the more brutal, slimy project that was formed in the remnants of the amazing Sweet Teeth. Although there’s nothing as intensely memorable as ‘I LIKE GIRLS, GIRLS WITH DADDY ISSUES’ on the debut HANNAHBAND record, the album does provide a more serious, focused project that works on an infinitely more measured and constantly enjoyable level than Sweet Teeth releases. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sweet Teeth, but its easier to tell that Nathan and Marnie are putting a lot more concentration and effort into this release, and it pays off in spades.

Whether or not that’s an actual phrase or not, ‘Honey, I’m A Bad Singer’ never loses its self-deprecating edge or snarling tone for even a second. With the explosive songs and growling hurt, it rings like Australian/Chinese punks Pairs if they were recorded by Steve Albini. The hoarse screams recall a time when emo wasn’t a frowned upon genre, and if Dischord was in its glory days, there is no doubt in my mind that HANNAHBAND would be at the top of the roster. Its too hard to pick a single standout song, but gun to my head, the slow-burning ‘Seven Day Quarrel Cycle’, which grinds like the best Fucked Up song never written, would be the frontrunner. ‘Long Distance Running’, which barrels forward like a strung-out Squirrel Bait crawling out of a toilet bowl and beginning a hunt of vengeance on the wankers that killed punk rock, is also an absolute shiner on an album of shiners. Overall, a fucking brilliant work of art, from start to fucking finish. I fucking ADORE this album.

 

Bare Grillz-Friends

Thank the Dethklok gods that Bare Grillz are back in action. I always thought that they had broken up, until I was pleasantly surprised by their furious display of screaming punk fury at Sound Summit. Now, after that hell of a performance, Bare Grillz rejected the status quo again by going and releasing this stellar record entitled ‘Friends’. More nihilistic than a Nietzsche convention, and more engaging than a personal performance from Nation of Ulysses. Why does Bare Grillz sound so good? Well, they sound like no one else, I actually find it hard to give a comparison. I’d liked to say that they’re a little Fugazi, but there’s not enough strong-willed anger and determination to change society. Same goes with a comparison to At the Drive-In. Instead, Bare Grillz are so purely Newcastle, with a sound that is so completely their own, and it could only have risen from being in such an isolated, close-knit environment. Whatever makes Bare Grillz tick, it allows them to spin between a million different ideas and musical styles, one minute floating on a tropical cloud, the next bashing our brains into oblivion, and a second later there’s only far away, lost vocals, math rock drums and a trembling bass. The amount of things Bare Grillz can balance on their plate, especially considering their status as a mild punk three-piece, they’re more like a Hydra of assorted punk tunes than any sort of traditional band. And that is a very, very good thing. Thank fuck Bare Grillz are back.

FUN FACT: Bare Grillz once did a split EP with Sweet Teeth, the aforementioned band that disbanded and led to the creation of HANNAHBAND. Shooting star, the more you know.

 

Schotel van de Dag-Vinger in de Pap

The press release for the Dutch band Schotel van de Dag was described as being Fugazi on crack, however listening to them, I was pleasantly surprised, or more aptly, fucking stoked, to hear an amalgamation of a bunch of my favourite hard punk anarchist punk bands. If Refused got together with the guys from Anti-Flag, and they were then locked in a room that played Pantera non-stop, then you’d have Schotel van de Dag. This band puts the brutal back in punk music, and they aren’t doing it half-heartedly. They throw themselves into every song like its a life or death situation, creating a maelstrom of sound that needs to be listened to. The thick, glistening slobs of bass that linger over the purely mental drums-its just a testament to oblivion via punk music.

Although the whole album is hard to find fault with, at least in my humble opinion, the opener of ‘Seventy Songs’ (possibly an allusion to Fugazi’s mind-shattering debut?) is the standout on the album. This is a song that should make Red Fang and Kvelertak quake in their boots, because there’s obviously another hard-working, hard-hitting punk/stoner/metal hybrid band that are all to ready to light the dynamite that will explode your expectations all over your living room. Reckless and endangered, Schotel van de Dag are the rare kind of band that makes you want to do something with your life, or at the very least, trade your testicles for tickets to their next show.

 

Mock Duck-Inner Infinities EP

And, now we’re over to Tokyo, Japan. I’ve said it before, the only really great bands I know from Japan are Guitar Wolf, The 5678’s and Boris, although I adore all these bands thoroughly. However, Mock Duck easily joins those ranks. If you’re any sort of fan of Kyuss, then you’d do fucking well to get on the free download offered of the ‘Inner Infitinies’ EP. This thing manages to be punk through the sheer fury of itself, but there’s also that slimy fuzz that coats it and brings it into stoner territory as well.

All six tracks (especially the weirdly-titled but intensely orgasmic ‘For A Few Minutes The World Smelled Like Pears’) on here kick tremendous amounts of ass. I mean that sincerely, in the way that Dozer kicks so much ass. The sludge is sped up like a 33 record was stuck onto 78. It blisters the mind and moults everything in its path. Basically, what I’m trying to say here, is that Mock Duck will blow your mind into a million fucking chunks in the space eighteen minutes. If you like your punk dripping wet in blazing gore and riff with solos, Mock Duck is brilliance incarnate.

 

X Is Y-Summer and Winter Warfare (Re-Issue)

And this one is from Shanghai. Fuck this article has been all over the fucking globe. Although not strictly punk, X Is Y adopt a math-rock attitude on their music, and they do a pretty badass job of it. If I’ve learnt anything from people older and wiser than me, its that punk rock doesn’t have to be brutal to be amazing. I actually had to lose the shit about don’t plagiarise from people and any semblance of social normalcy to make way for that brain nugget.

Anyway, X Is Y is like Tool, if all the bullshit got stripped away. You know, all that shit that Maynard James Keenan always blathers on about, like hookers with penises and prison sex. Without all that in the way, and the heaviness shaved back a bit, what you get is a complex and interesting view into music. I feel like I’m sitting in a classroom, and being taught how to read sheet music, only instead of being bored the fuck to death, the class is being taught by Steve Albini.

In summary, ‘Summer and Winter Warfare’ doesn’t have any spectacular moments, but that’s okay, because neither does any This Town Needs Guns or Polvo albums. Instead, you’ve simply got to let X Is Y spin its music all over your mind, like some sort of Shellac-meets-Underground Lovers spider creating a web. Overall, it’s hard to be disappointed in an album that is shifting so much, but always maintaining a direction of awesomeness.

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Rock Album Reviews, Pt. 1: White Summer + Designer Mutts + Hari & the Karis + Lightsabres + Almighty Rhombus

I’ll admit it. I’m a massive knob. My e-mail has been stockpiling record review request after record review request, and I’ve been sitting here, trying to do something about it. Except, instead of doing stuff about it, I went to a bunch of gigs and focused on not fucking up my new job. But to quote The Big Lebowski, ‘Sometimes, there’s a man…and even if he’s a lazy man-which Ryan most certainly was….aw, I’ve lost my train of thought’. Anyway, here’s a bunch of review of the albums that I thought were pretty badass. Apologies to the artists that I couldn’t give them an original piece, it is simply a matter that I would probably end up in the morgue from finger blisters. Enjoy my shitty descriptions, then go buy these albums.

White Summer-What I’ve Been Waiting For EP

The White Summer are a rock band from Melbourne. If you typed that sentence into Google, you’d probably get an infinite amount of search results, but goddamn if this isn’t one paying attention. Right off the bat, their tunes will worm their way into your ears and set up a permanent residence. If The Black Angels spent some time getting guitar lessons from Dan Auberach, and there was a vocal morphing of Ian Kenny and Matt Bellamy, you could get something with the power and balls of White Summer. If you don’t believe that description, think its lame or whatever, listen to ‘Head in the Sand’, and feel the wrath of wrongness.

Designer Mutts-A Day At the Wauchope Races

Despite the fact that I’d never head of Mauchope before this EP crossed my path (it’s a small town in the Mid-North Coast of NSW, whoever said reading shitty music blogs wasn’t educational), I did know a bit about Mark Spence. The dude was in a band called Royal Chant that I adored and saw a couple times back in Year 10 when I first found out that there was something to listen to besides Mix 106.5. Designer Mutts is a side-project from Royal Chant, and the EP that Mark has released is great. Every track on the EP is a solid rock track, something that you could easily find yourself singing along to down at your local inner West venue. A special standout track is ‘High Low’, a song that will make you want to ride down a highway, top down and shouting at the top of your lungs, so fucking stoked with the track that you’ll completely ignore all the abundantly cliche nature of your behaviour.

SUPER SPECIAL BONUS REVIEW: Royal Chant-New Nowhere. Starting off with an acoustic strumming, the song soon envelopes and matures into a full-blown, catchy-as-REM-on-steroids rock track. Download for free, and enjoy with a side of breakfast in Surry Hills, because with the money you’ll save on good tunes with ‘New Nowhere’, you’ve earned an expensive early-morning treat.

Hari & The Karis-Hari & The Karis

Let’s just say that if you include an old-school Black Keys cover that you completely nail with boogie-woogie infection, then you’ll get an all-star review on my website that means fuck all in the spectrum of things. However, Hari & The Karis, a garage swamp band from New York that put the rock back in defrockingingly badass, have more than enough tunes on hand to back that prematurely biased evaluation. Just take a listen to ’24 Hours’, a song that screams and squirms, bursting out of the normal with a chorus that goes ‘All we have is 24 hours, all we need is a miracle!’. Sound familiar to anyone who’s done an assignment, ever? Anyway, all the songs on these guys self-titled record are spaced out boogie monsters that will cling to your brain like a Facehugger, switching between schizophrenically wild to gooey macabre, and a whole spectrum of other emotions as well. At the least, you’re brain is going to explode all over the room from being wildly entertained. If Velociraptor (the band, not the villain) toured with these guys, the world would probably combust from the charisma.

Lightsabres-Demons

Stoner rock from Sweden has always been a little pet-love of mine. I never knew that much about it, and it seemed hard to delve and find any more  information about it short of moving to Stockholm, but let’s just say Dozer have always been a constant reminder to me of how great that nationalistic sub-genre is. However, the new band Lightsabres has sought to rectify that gaping hole in my life. There’s nothing not to love with Lightsabres. Firstly, their name is from the most badass weapon in Star Wars, something most people that have visited this website will know I love. Secondly, they’re a stoner-rock band from fucking Sweden, something I’ve already established is almost as badass as lightsabres themselves. To clarify, their riffs are a murky mess of slow and toxic menace, choking out the listener like Hulk Hogan in his Black Sabbath-loving days. Finally, Lightsabres do a pretty good (not better, but pretty good) cover of one of my all time favourite songs by one of my all time favourite artists, Ty Segall. Although, a relatively short work, ‘Demons’ is fucking badass.

The Almighty Rhombus-Lucid Living

And to round out my embarrassingly late reviews, its The Almighty Rhombus, a Canadian band with a good name (the rhombus-most underrated 2D shape ever) and even better songs. For an indie rock band, none of these songs are grating, at least for me.They flow nicely from one to another, bright  and melodic enough to not bog themselves down, but with enough lyrical self-deprecation (see: ‘Butane Brain’) and diversity in the music to ensure that their music doesn’t get annoying. If Vampire Weekend and The Strokes teamed up and found their credibility again, you could get something like ‘Lucid Living’. Even if you’re not an indie-rock fan, the song ‘Blank’ is worth a geez.

Video: Parquet Courts-You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now

As inevitable failure in the form of the forthcoming English Paper 2 HSC exam creeps further forward in everyone’s mind, I combat your paranoia with the video for a song I’ve reviewed a fuck load before, and am still not tired of. Yep, the video for ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’ by Brooklyn stoner punks Parquet Courts is up and at ’em. Smart lyrics like ‘Seasicks better than heartsick baby’ come to life as a little red Pacman ghost dances along to them like a music video for a High School Musical song. In the background, some seriously weird shit in the form of a creative re-imagining of looking under a microscope in Year 8 goes on. Weird shit that’s weirder than purple poop-wouldn’t expect anything less from Parquet Courts.

Album Review: White Fang-Steady Truckin’ For the Summer

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You wanna know a band that’s as real as the $treet$? Motha. Fuckin. White Fang. Yeah, this band is fucking crazy. This is a band that’ll sell it’s granma’s cooch hairs for a crack rock, and not think twice about it. This band makes Heisenberg look like their little bitch. White Fang will sink it’s proverbial teeth into your neck and drag you to a secluded clearing in the Portland woods and feast on your still living carcass. Why? Because White Fang are badass. (Editor’s Note: White Fang do not condone cannibalism, they just want to let you know that their music has a badass mind of its own).

You’d be able to listen to this album anywhere, but I feel like there’s a few choice scenarios in which this music would be best appreciated. Scenario One: Smoking meth with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, and then flipping on ‘Wanna Ride’ on your old tape deck, because you really wanna impress the dudes from Breaking Bad with a kickass tune. Scenario Two: Talking to Hunx and his Punx, arguing about how he is the only good bubblegum-punker right now and then flopping out ‘Bad Boys’. Scenario Three: Going to a Who concert, and when they bust out ‘Baba O’Riley’, stick in your earphones and play ‘Loud Ones’ instead, because it’s got a better keyboard riff. Scenario Four: Koala wrestling to ‘Great Weekend’. Scenario Five: Surfing a tsunami of blood with Freddie from Nightmare on Elm Street, because that’s the only thing that’s gorily awesome enough to match the guitar squall of ‘Go See California’. Scenario Six: Time travelling back to the 80’s and becoming the musical director of Hawaii Five-O, and making the them song to that show ‘I Want A Party’. Scenario Seven: Jay Reatard comes back from the dead, wakes you up and wants you to play a song for him, and so you obviously pick ‘FTW’ by White Fang. Scenario Eight: Reflecting on your bummer-ass life, and needing a song to reflect your melancholy mood, but you’ve listened to The Smashing Pumpkins too many times recently, and your Cure CD is in the car, so you put on ‘Tomorrow’.

Oh, look at that. We went through the whole album, and picked out plausible, everyday situations the average White Fang fan finds themselves in, and matched a track from the new album to each situation. Wasn’t that incredibly convenient? Although none of those situations will ever realistically occur for you, don’t let that dissuade you from listening to this album, Like I said before, you can enjoy that shit anywhere. Yep, ‘Steady Truckin’ For the Summer’ is pretty fucking great all round, even if you don’t have access to Hunx and His Punx or a Hawaii Five-O time machine. So, instead of wasting your valuable time trying to build an inplausible machine/stalking Hunx, go buy the cassette, or download the album here, and use the power of imagination to visualise hanging out with the late great Jay Reatard.

White Fang rulz!

Album Review: Free Weed-Beer On the Drugs/Free

You can probably go ahead and assume that this isn’t the sort of music that will have Avril Lavigne fans gouging each others eyes out to get a copy of. Although you can always wish for the sweet moment of faux-punk fans in inevitable slaughter, it’s probably better for your mental health to put the eye pus to the sideline and focus on this sweet double album from Free Weed.

Free Weed as a title speaks for itself. It’s the solo ‘junk-pop’ project from Eric Gage. This is a pothead who rules more than the average pothead, in that he not only creates badass lo-fi neo-pysch but also runs the always excellent Gnar Tapes (Gnar stands for Gnarly!). If you had even a shred of literary intuition, you would assume that Free Weed make wacked out and awesome music. Let’s take a look shall we?

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The EP/LP thing (I really don’t know what to call it) ‘Beer On the Drugs’ is an aimless amble through an acid trip gone right. Fuzzed out and cheap sounding instruments echo in the greatest amateur way, proving that you don’t have to sound good, to sound good. ‘Sci-Fi’ warbles on a 70’s vibe, crashlanding a UFO in a paddock, but instead of butt-prodding a backwards farmer, jams out and smokes a little hemp. ‘Friend of the Guitar’ melds sonic take-offs, ‘do-doo’s’ and a little jangle, and ‘Heating Bills’ is a hazy, THC-infused noise throwback of Bill and Ted approved proportions. However, for all these short and sweet tracks, Free Weed sounds best on ‘Beer on the Drugs’ when Gage extends and calms his sound, such as on the closers ‘Caprica’ and ‘High Zak Pt. 3’. The former is a synth exploration of the Triassic period, and the latter is an acoustic chill-fest.

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‘Free’ is the next LP thing from Free Weed that I think you should pay attention to. This was released in 2012, a whole year after ‘Beer on the Drugs’, and a description of Free Weed’s sound having matured could kinda be slipped in there, I guess, if you were half an hour into a bag of mushrooms. No, in all seriousness, ‘Free’ is definitely the best thing to come from Gage’s stoned stupor of magnificence. The songs on here are pure stoner-pop genius, slack guitar reverberating in happy-go-lucky, hippie child exuberance, with elements of 70’s hard rock popping up throughout. As far as mind-expanding, short-as-a-tripping-midget songs go, there really isn’t a substitute for tracks like ‘In Doors’, ‘Slo-Fi’, and ‘Pimp Reaper’.

I really do mean it when I say that this weird collection of tunes is more than a haphazard collection of stoner brilliance. No, these songs have cohesiveness and grit to them. Initially, they might breeze by like any other hookah-inspired idea, but these albums are full of little gems. In fact, these songs are so good, they make me want to avoid the obvious joke of calling Free Weed en-GAGE-ing (amirite!). Slobbered out, and cool as all fuck, Free Weed makes tunes that expand beyond stoner munchables, and gratify the true search for pop-manship. If that’s a word. I don’t know, I just know that Free Weed is great.

You can pick up this sweet as bison-balls album at Metal Postcard’s Bandcamp. YAY FOR CONVENIENCE!

Album Review: Dune Rats-Smile EP

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Look at that cover. That’s a goddamn work of art. It’s what would happen if Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh would try to fathom at portraying if they all got together in one awesome timeline. Then they would go egg Da Vinci’s house, and steal Roy Lichtentstein’s weed. Because that dude was a total poser. 

Anyway, everyone’s favourite bong-smoking, slut-indulging, fried fiends Dune Rats released their third EP a couple months back. Yes, I’m late to the party, but that’s the way things are. What matters is that I am finally getting around to reviewing this stellar piece of awesome shit. The ‘Smile EP’ will probably go down as that Dunies EP that had ‘Fuck It’ and ‘Red Light, Green Light’ on it. The latter track is itself an urban legend for it’s film clip(s) alone. You know the one. You don’t? I won’t spoil it for you, but there’s a lot of weed. A lot. Fuck it, bring in the kids, make a game out of it. Count how many cones BC rips, then calculate how many brain cells he lost. All of them is the right answer. Also, if you feel shitting yourself with laughter, then watch the interview they shot with Simon from DZ Deathrays immediately after the clip. It’s funnier than Flash Gordon getting roasted by Patton Oswalt. On another note, somebody make that happen. 

Anyway, if you watched that clip (if you didn’t, you really should. You really, really should), you’ll kinda figure out how Dunies like to rock out (with their cocks out). They play music, so they can party and score free weed and groupies, and it’s just kind of a bonus that they happen to be extravagantly good at it. Every track on the ‘Smile EP’ is jammy, super-fun, and soaked-in-week-old-bong-water crusty. It’s got the jangles, it’s got the riffs, and it rubs against you in a most non-threatening way, like a smiling junkie in a unicorn onesie at Parklife. 

There is no way you can not have a good time when listening to the ‘Smile EP’. From Track 1 ‘Red Light, Green Light’, to the head bopping, booty shakers of ‘All You Do’ and ‘Burning Bridges’, to Triple J stalwart ‘Fuck It’, and the closer and general summarisation of the Dune Rats mantra, both in title and sound, ‘Stoner Pop’. Fuck me, this might just be the jewel in the Dune Rats crown that will inevitably be pawned off for that sweet as glassy shaped liked Godzilla’s dong and a quart of bud. Good on ya Dunies.

You can grab two old Dune Rats tracks off their Triple J Unearthed page right here. Also, if you’re in Sydney on Wednesday, the band will be playing honourable support to FIDLAR at OAF. FIDLAR are a band that I absolutely love, and would give any goddamn opportunity to see. Their debut album is my current favourite of the year. Hey-Zeus Christ, that would be a great show. 

Video: Cool Ghouls-Queen Sophie

Holy bulging nutsack Batman! That’s more or less the main thing that stuck out from this stoner-ific new video for the brand new Cool Ghouls track ‘Queen Sophie’. Yep, there’s enough skin in this clip to classify as softcore porn, and the majority of it is male, and hairy. You turned on yet? You will be once you hear the awesome slacker sounds that Cool Ghouls pull out musically. It’s really poppy and sunny with just enough subtle nihilism to transform it into a really cool (ghouls) song. And those watercolours at the end are so good, they’d make Old Greg blush.