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”


“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.


Top 10 Australian Albums 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, reckon is the best of the best this year.

Albums are probably the most important listicle for me, personally, because they are the full form of creative expression for the artist. A single song, video clip or show can take certain things out of context, bolster aspects for the strongest appeal, and add new factors that increase the credibility. But with the album format, the artist has the range and capability to express themselves to their full extent. Sometimes, that leaves bands boring and stuggling for things to say and at other times there are plenty of gems to be found that represent the artist more fully than the ‘singles’ can convey.

If you haven’t heard any of the following albums, I beg you to go forth and purchase a copy. These artists deserve your attention.

Honourable Mentions: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders (‘Playmates’), Ciggie Witch (‘Rock And Roll Juice’), Ernest Ellis (‘Cold Desire’), Pronto (‘When You’re Gone’) Andras & Oscar (‘Cafe Romantica’) Jonathan Boulet (‘Gubba’) Bloods (‘Work It Out’), Nun (‘Nun’), SPOD (‘Taste the Sadness’) Donny Benet (‘Weekend At Donny’s’) Collarbones (‘Return’).

10. Lowtide – Lowtide

Both heartbreaking and riveting, Lowtide unveiled a shoegaze masterpiece with their debut record. Flawless reverb was achieved, a statement that is almost never uttered. What’s more, the band interjected excitable gems like “Wedding Ring” and “Held” to prove they could do more than poignant and mouth-watering dream-pop shudders. (Review Here)

9. Straight Arrows – Rising

There’s something rising alright, and its not just the pulse of this record. A 60’s bonanza of loose Nuggets nods with the breakneck pace that we’ve come to adore from Owen Penglis. “Petrified” will never lose its cooler-than-Kim-Deal aura, “Never Enough” will never not be accompanied by headbanging, and “Make Up Your Mind’ will never make you not sweat like a guy who just popped pills in a rave in the Sahara. (Review Here)

8. Yes, I’m Leaving – Slow Release

Four albums in, and YIL have fully embraced their aggressive and blisteringly amazing potential. The way that three dudes from Sydney managed to make music that completely replicated THAT scene from Total Recall is mindblowing (pun intended, motherfucker). Strangling brutality ensues at an unbelievable rate, and the result is must-hear. Yes, I’m Leaving have made punk exciting again. (Review Here)

7. Scotdrakula – Scotdrakula

Melbourne’s Scotdrakula released an album so heart-stoppingly fun and eccentric, you would swear you’re at a theme park run by Tim & Eric. The record was a singles-fest, from the h8r-proof “O’Clock”, to “Shazon” impractically kicking more ass than a buddy cop film from the 1970’s. The yelps, riffs and good times of this album are as addicting as crack, and 10x more fun. (Review Here)

6. Bearhug – So Gone

Bearhug impressed beyond belief with their sophomore effort, lush pools of guitar gliding gently but effectively. For the duration of their second record, Bearhug never failed to impress, creating deep wells of greatness. What’s more, the songs were so packed that every listen brought on a new subtle technique or riff to bubble with joy over. (Review Here)

5. Ausmuteants – Order of Operation

Hilarious, snarky and brutally underrated, Ausmuteants released their third, and best record, this year. Attacking a variety of subjects, from porn, to unoriginality, to just being angry at fucking everything, like if Devo made ‘Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out The Trash’. Beautifully loud obnoxious, like a Geelong-ised Cartman that loves The Monks, Ausmuteants are the punk band that Australia doesn’t need, but the one it deserves. (Review Here)

4. Step-Panther – Strange, But Nice

Going from a band of shredders that liked to make songs about fat kids getting abducted and teenage romance to something that people wanted to take seriously was always going to be hard, but Step-Panther achieved that with their stupefyingly good second record. As naked as open-heart surgery, Step-Panther laid things bare for a mind-numbingly good album, in the truest sense of the word. There’s a journey here, a quest guided by back-breaking guitar solos, bloody doom riffs and stories as wholesome as The Goonies. (Review Here)

3. The Ocean Party – Soft Focus

The Ocean Party have always been consistent, but on their fourth album, they’ve wrought an album of genius. ‘Soft Focus’ is packed with songs that tug on the ol’ heart, yearning lyrics pushing through walls of sound that recall The Triffids at their best. If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in a record, “Soft Focus” is the easiest, and most likeable, of your options, a straight-up pop album masked in woefully gorgeous jangle. (Review Here)

2. Weak Boys – Weekdays/Weekends

Weak Boys, a Sydney supergroup made of Internet Sensations™, Dollar Bar contributors and Craig Lyons, quietly released an Australian classic this year on par with The Castle and Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers. A diverse smorgasbord of guitar-pop and mope-rock, “Weekdays/Weekends” is fuelled by self-deprecation, glistening humour and a catchiness that rivals Taylor Swift. It is fantastic in so many indescribable ways, an encapsulation of the Australian, or at least Sydney, lifestyle in much the same way The Go-Betweens probably did back before Y2K. From the ode to Rice Is Nice’s Julia Wilson, to the plight of the hungover, Diane Keaton-pining miser (read: everyone), “Weekdays/Weekends” was both the most underrated release of 2014, and one of the best. (Review Here)

1. Blank Realm – Grassed Inn

‘Grassed Inn’ was released in January of 2014, a time when most records are easily forgotten about by the time Year-End Lists roll around. At here we are, December, and Blank Realm still reign supreme. Topping a list on some shitty blog is nowhere near the recognition this album deserves – it is a masterpiece. Off-kilter pop that hurts and burns, burrowing into the emotional conscious with such an ease, you’d think it was a Nicholas Sparks novel. From the droning weirdness of a Spiritualized/New Order hybrid to the embracement of hurt that a Johhny Cash/Robert Smith duet would reveal, a pool of influences are on display, embraced to create something magnificently unique. Wrapped in the keytar-adoring hands of Blank Realm, music is a malleable, smudged and sincerely uplifting creature that restores faith. Superb in every word, ‘Grassed Inn’ is essential for everyone. (Review Here)

Gig Review: Straight Arrows + The Gooch Palms + TV Colours

Saturday 28 June @ The Fishbowl, Newcastle

You’re fucking kidding me, right? Three of Australia’s greatest bands in one house party? You’re fucking joking, right? That shit doesn’t exist in reality, does it? And yet, after a week of coughing up my lungs, and too much Codral, I found myself in Newy for the first time in my life, with a crudely drawn cock on one hand, and a sixie of South Korea’s finest brew in the other.

TV Colours are already blasting through a set off their debut album, with killer cuts like ‘Beverly’ ringing out onto the otherwise quiet Newcastle streets. These songs are Husker Du shredded down to Canberra size, and let loose in the Australian landscape. There’s probably nothing more beautiful than watching Robin and co. deliver with such confidence. Having seen TV Colours a half dozen times, its insane to see how the band has developed from being kind of sloppy and withdrawn, to being a hurricane of guitar shredding and explosiveness. In Newcastle, with only a hundred people in witness, TV Colours executed one of their best sets. As ‘Dark Days Against the Fade’ and ‘Bad Dreams’ rounded out the set, it’d be fair to say that everyone was fairly fucking stoked to see TV Colours play one of their finest shows.

After ‘Purple Skies, Toxic River’ had finished, Newy’s finest hit the stages. Kat and Leroy, aka The Gooch Palms are well-documented as one of Australia’s greatest current bands to see live. There will be sweat, there will be nudity, and there will be a cover of Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’.

The Goochies fuckin’ rule, and they were in top form. Sure, there were a couple technical issues, but that’s to be expected when you’re in a thronging crowd at a house party, in a city where there isn’t a million amazing gigs every week. When a show comes along this good, Newcastle folk don’t hold back, and they show no mercy. Neither did Leroy-a couple songs in, and his signature nudity was proudly on display, and his sweaty arse covered the faces of the front row. ‘Hunter Street Mall’, ‘You’ and ‘We Get By’ were taken and happily ravaged by the hometown crowd, and with this advantage,  the usual Gooch Palms shenanigans went into hyperspeed.

Finally, the house party hits its finale-Straight Arrows. Sydney’s finest wasted no time in laying waste to the crowd’s depleted energy. Straight Arrows don’t give a shit if you’re running low on fumes, you are going to party, and you are going to party hard. Although the toilet paper was limited this time around, the good times were still in full swing, as Straight Arrows tore through songs harder than Ivan Milat tore into naive backpackers. With cuts off both their debut and sophomore getting the sweaty, adoring treatment, Straight Arrows pulverised eyes and ears in the Fishbowl, ensuring that more people went home deaf and happy than not. The set, which included favourites like ‘Magic Sceptre’, ‘Something Happens’ and recent gut-churner, foot-stomper ‘Petrified’, managed to pulverise all five senses, and occasionally the sixth one.

I left the Fishbowl, drenched in a stench on par with a skunk dipped in rancid feces, and with a Dinosar Jr. t-shirt wetter than a nun at a porn shoot, to sleep in a Mini Cooper in the streets of Newcastle. Sure, my back was more cramped than an 80 year old arthritis patient, and sure, I froze my nipples off. But the fact that I had just witnessed three of Australia’s best bands at a house party in bloody Newcastle. Fuckin’ ripper of a Saturday night, if I don’t say so myself.

Top 5 Records w/ Straight Arrows

Straight Arrows are one of my all time favourite bands. Seriously, this local band playing live is probably what it felt like to watch a band like Nirvana or David Lee Roth’s Van Halen back in the day. People knew there was something historical happening. When you listen to or watch Straight Arrows, your soul becomes imbedded with some insane energy, like you’ve suddenly become a part of an ancient Aztec rock n roll ritual. Live, Straight Arrows are a beast that force you to move your body and dance like you’ll be sent to a prison where they play Matt Corby on repeat if you don’t hit a sweat quota.

Which is why I’m over the fucking moon that Straight Arrows’ frontman cared to share his favourite ultra fun time records with me. After so many stupidly smile-engaging times with Straight Arrows, it’s awesome to hear what gets Owen going while he makes his double egg yolk smoothies in the morning, before he goes out and punches cow carcasses in preparation for the big match-up on Saturday.

Theme: Top 5 Ultimate Amazing Fun Records

Don and the Good Times – Where the Action Is.
After playing keyboard on Louie Louie, then leaving the stiffs in the Kingsmen after that prick Lynn Easton took control, Don formed the Goodtimes and smashed it out of the stadium with this record. The next one was BAD bubblegum. Then he quit playing and produced the Stooges’ Funhouse. Perfect resumé
We’re the Banana Splits.
Sure, it was a kids’ TV show with a bunch of shitty skits between even worse cartoons, but the album is a BUBBLEGUM MASTERPIECE.
GG Allin and the JabbersAlways Was, Is, And Always Shall Be.
GG when he was trying to make a tuff punk/pop record, pre-turds and tough guy posturing.
Rolling Stones – England’s Newest Hitmakers.
All r’n’b (in the classic, albeit white, sense), all hits. All the time.
Prince Buster – Wreck A Pum Pum.
His dirty album. Self recorded. Has the Pharaoh House Crash on it. Somewhere on the cup of ska and rocksteady. King of Jamaica. He could do no wrong in the 60s.

Top 10 Australian Albums of 2014 (So Far…)


There have been an orgy of new Aussie releases this year that have tickled the chin of genius, and caused her many rolls of fat to quake in laughter. But there have been a few that have genuinely succeeded in being goddamn masterpieces. These, are those records:

10. TIED: Nathan Roche-Magnetic Memories + Shrapnel-Tobacco Dreams

I honestly couldn’t decided between these two works of art. One is a laid back bible on whatever happened to come into Nathan Roche’s mind when he strummed the chords, and the other is a deceivingly simple collection of pop songs that make Mac DeMarco look like a rookie. But both Nathan Roche and Shrapnel exceed in making unique statements with their albums that few Sydney bands, indeed Australian bands, could think up over years of training.

9. Rat & Co-Binary

The second album from Rat & Co is a sonic tapestry, something that combines the past with the future extraordinarily easily. Rat & Co cover a million different varieties and spices on this album, from lush synths and haunted child samples in ‘Vocal Insanity’ to the glacial ‘Calculated Movements I, II and III’. But ‘Binary’ remains a solid fixture of the Rat & Co thesis of creating beats that’ll surpass the band. Hopefully, when aliens dig up this civilisation in millions of years, they find this album instead of the new Lana Del Ray record.

8. HTRK-Psychic 9-5 Club

The HTRK story is a tortured one, but that’s probably what helped them to become the strong and identifiable unit they are today. HTRK’s new record moves in honeyed and dance-worthy directions. Although rife with the kind of saddening lyrics that are expected from a HTRK record, ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’ is infinitely less abrasive as previous material, and allows itself to be, dare I say, accessible. Songs such as ‘Blue Sunshine’ ring with an allure that is insanely gorgeous, and create a mystical atmosphere around this record that can’t be overstated.

7. Ernest Ellis-Cold Desire

The first record that introduced me to Ernest Ellis is, by far, also one of the greatest pieces of dramatic indie rock I’ve heard in years. Both intimate and expansive, Ernest Ellis manage to combine the blue collar poeticism of bands like The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile, with the grandness of U2. Akin to their touring mates Shining Bird, Ernest Ellis pull you into their album like your tumbling headfirst down a waterfall of happiness. If only my similes were half as good as the music on this album.But seriously, listen to ‘Black Wire’, your life will change.

6. Dune Rats-Dune Rats

Dune Rats sure did deliver on their debut album. After a couple EP’s and countless cockteasing, the guys who were previously most famous for this have gone n done a full LP. Full of the kind shit that made us fall in love with them in the first place, the album is a singles fest of fun, riotous tunes meant to be shouted back at the band at a show where there’s more joints than people.

5. Bachelor Pad-Dooming Out

Bachelor Pad are literally made of good times. It’s in their blood. If you cut open Huw, you’d get an overdose of fun-fumes and bongwater instead of blood. They’ve packed all that awesomeness into an album ready made to be the go-to party starter. Even if you’re an accountant that works for Telstra, you’ll be able to enjoy this album. Just listen to ‘Fried’, ‘Movin’ On’ or ‘Let Me Go’ and for a few minutes, everything will be centred around total, unobstructed gewd times.

4. White Hex-Gold Nights

Think of a scenario in which Depeche Mode are dipped in a vat of boiling acid, and their steaming carcass’ are used as the bare bones for a revolutionary dark-pop project out of Melbourne, half-headed by one of the guys from noise enthusiasts Slug Guts. White Hex’s second record ‘Gold Nights’ is exactly that, thudding synth work shuddering against shimmering walls of noise and breathless vocals from the amazing Tara Green. The results in this album are simply stunning, the kind of thing Robert Smith wished he’d invented.

3. Straight Arrows-Rising

Although this album hasn’t even officially come out yet, it’s been a steadfast go-to listen for the past month or so. Every time I need something to pick me up before going out, and I’m all Sabbath-ed out, I’m hitting up ‘Rising’ instantly. Packed with tunes that get the blood pumping and the genitals,, you guessed it, rising, the record could not be a better successor of Straight Arrows’ debut.

2. Nun-Nun

Another self-titled debut effort has cracked the Top 10. Man, I’m just fucking crazy, aren’t I? Anyway, the first LP (of hopefully many) from the Melbourne synth-punkers is a shock to the system on par with having Alice Cooper break into your house and throw a toaster in your bathtub. The songs on here range from far-out schizophrenic jams, to tight and ugly lil’ ravers that get up in your face like the most bratty kid imaginable. Overall, the record is unabashedly hectic and unforgettable.

1. Blank Realm-Grassed Inn

So, the best album of this shithole years so far, in my own humble opinion, is Blank Realm’s purple-glazed ‘Grassed Inn’. They created a pop masterpiece, and I will challenge anyone who disagrees to a jelly fight in a bathtub. I say that knowing the full consequences of uttering such a profound statement, but I stand by it. The tracks on this album have been mumbled under my breath on the train so many times, I think they’ve surpassed Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’. Every tune has a poignance and impressionability that surpasses almost every other pop release of the past couple years. The fact that the lyrics are heartbreaking and honest, and Blank Realm come from humble Brisbane beginnings is just a major, major plus. Goddamn, if you have a soul, you will spend the rest of your days listening to this album.

Album Review: Straight Arrows-Rising

In a parallel universe, Straight Arrows never exists. As a result, everything sucks. Sydney continues in a vein of ignorant, cliched and ultimately placid indie rock and alt-country. It becomes a city of mediocrity, where absolutely nothing dangerous or exciting happens. The scum, filth and riveting thrills of the Sydney we know, are gone. Everything takes on a shade of grey, and everyone becomes boring as batshit. Life is as bleak as opening up some Cocoa Puffs and finding out that cockroaches have eaten the whole thing, leaving no high-carb, chocolate-stained treats for you to enjoy. In summary, this alternative timeline sucks balls.

Now, I’m not saying that Straight Arrows are the be-all-end-all of Sydney’s, or Australia’s, alternative scene. But you’d be a fool to ignore their status as one of the first cult bands to emerge and have a substantial effect. They’re 2010 debut album was a tour-de-force in having fun, being an obnoxious teenage wanker, and not taking yourself seriously. It was the refreshing breath of air that Australian music needed, and caused a shit tonne of amazing bands to form and follow the standard that Straight Arrows set.

Four years on, and Straight Arrows release their sophomore record, ‘Rising’. Now, I’m not sure what they’re rising to. Because once you’ve reached the top, were do you go? Everyone that knows the Straight Arrows name loves them. Besides conquering the adoration of the continent, Straight Arrows have pretty much risen to every other challenge. I guess it’s in reference to our (read: ‘Straya’s) pulse at the prospect of the amazing material on this album. Or maybe it’s a dick joke. Who knows?

Anyway, the material on this album is just as exploitative of fun times as ‘It’s Happening’. I’d like to say that Straight Arrows have ‘matured’ and ‘grown’, and taken a The War On Drugs stance to music, enveloping the listener in a cool, crisp glaze that shatters their expectations, and lulls them into a new take on life and love. Fuck that. Straight Arrows are pushing boundaries, breaking down the walls of fuzz and generally fucking shit up. They’re destroying my eardrums and I love it. I want more. Straight Arrows are a Class A drug, and Owen Penglis is my dealer.

To prove my point, you could check out any song on this album. Seriously, do a random search, and the song you land on will force your legs and arms into the caterwauling dance manoeuvre known as the ‘Drunken Don’t Give a Fuck’. You’ll cringe, laugh, spew and punch a cone all in the same movement. Where’d you get weed from? That’s all part of the mystery.

For example, ‘Never Enough’ is a good place to start on Buzzfeed’s 10 Reasons Why Str@ight Arrowz Rule (I assume Buzzfeed’s editorial board consists of 12 year old boys who haven’t figured out how to jerk off). The song is a blast of rock that has more punch than Muhammad Ali using your chin as a speedball. There’s giant sloppy riffs that crash upon you like you’re tied up underneath an avalanche. And the chorus is a fucking brutal thing made to be screamed at your ex-partner from the window of your apartment, throwing assorted clothing at their slowly disappearing car.

Likewise, ‘Make Up Your Mind’ gets the unruliness started within seconds, trawling the brains of listeners through a chemical experiment of partied-out guitars, bleeding drums and lovesick, fed up lyrics. It’s the kind of thing that Romeo would’ve made if he’d listened to The Stooges and The Soft Boys, and had stuck around with Juliet for more than a second, and gotten sick of her, as that egomaniac inevitably would have.

And then there are the songs on ‘Rising’ that make out like they could’ve been ripped from lost compilations of the 60’s. ‘Nuggets for the Perpetually Interesting’, as they were probably called. Anyway, tracks like ‘Don’t Call My Name’, ‘Can’t Stand It’ and ‘Without Ya’ have the aesthetic of a New York loft that Patty Smith used to own, that’s been filled with the love-children of hippies and punks. They’re romantic tracks soaked in propane guitar and lit with teeth-rotting garage rock.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. There’s shit to do, like watch The Big Lebowski for the 74th time, drizzle pepperoni pizza with peri peri sauce, and think about what goes on behind the heads of people that replace the word ‘to’ with ‘2’. Seriously, what the fuck happened there? But what can be said with total and utter certainty is that Straight Arrows have officially and irrevocably created an album that will never stop being fun to shout, scream and throw up to. ‘Rising’, like its predecessor, will be the soundtrack to many boozed up, fucked up and turnt up nights in the future. Party on Straight Arrows, party on.

‘Rising’ comes out through Rice is Nice Records on Friday, June 13th. That’s next fuarkin’ week! WOAH! AND! They’re playing Newtown Social Club the night after (Saturday, June 14th). If you haven’t seen Straight Arrows, your life isn’t complete. If you have, you’ve probably already gotten yourself a ticket. TV COLOURS! AND SPIRIT VALLEY! ARE PLAYING SUPPORT!!!!!

Video: Straight Arrows-Petrified

Straight Arrows are fucking back and better than ever, with an album of raucous, debauchery tunes to kill your brain cells and get the fun genes pumping through your veins once again. The song is called ‘Petrified’ and it makes me want to slice open the nutsack of a Sasquatch. Why? Because this shit is insanely rare, and it would be blasphemous to not take advantage of the situation.

On top of this, the accompanying video is a VHS-ish, colour-fucked, opium-inhaling smorgasbord of  weirdness. It features random ass items being manipulated and distorted beyond belief, and the band in an uncharacteristically sedate state….WAIT WHAT THE FUCK, OWEN PENGLIS JUST FUCKING STABBED A GUY! WHAT THE FUCK!

Straight Arrows have announced the show of the century, at Newtown Social Club, Saturday 14th of June. TV Colours (!) are also going to play (!!!). Best leave your dignity at home for this one.

Gig Review: Rice Is Nice Does 5 Years

Sunday 27 April @ The Roller Den

Rice Is Nice is, hands down one of the best Australian labels. Ever. Next to R.I.P Society, Chapter Music, Anti-Fade and Bedroom Suck, Rice Is Nice has one of the best label rosters imaginable. They have not released a bad album. Ever. I can’t even go a day without fucking up on something major, let alone five years of goddamn perfection. Do you want proof of how much I love Rice Is Nice? Here you go:

I’m actually holding a water, I just wanted to look like on of the cool kids

So when they announced they were chucking a 5th Birthday Party, my entire being exploded in excitement. Pretty much the whole  roster, with the notable exceptions of The Laurels, Good Heavens and Seekae, were going to all be in one place, playing the songs they made and recorded and released on an amazing label. How could this not be a better night than the climactic point of any teen ‘comedy’ of the 1990’s?

Unfortunately, I missed the first two bands, Polographics and Shatter Brain because I’ve literally been constructed of dickhead material. I missed this:

You can probably tell that kicking myself in the balls for eternity won’t even scrape the pain I feel about missing these bands.

However, the night had to start somewhere, and it began with Angie, which rules because Angie rules, and she rules fucking hard. She’s a shredder of the highest order, commanding her guitar like she’s Clint Eastwood smacking down justice on some hapless punk. She oozes so much cool, it’s like she ingested the beating heart of Kim Gordon. If Coco Chanel bottled her coolness to make a scent, they’d be selling ‘Cooler Than You’ by Angie for a million bucks a spray. How else do you explain ripper tunes like ‘Stars And Dust’ and ‘Parallels’? These strutting, leather-jacket-clad songs are dripping in swaggering, sweaty cool. I was also drenched in sweat by the end of her set, a cast of awe struck upon my face. Needless to say, I fucking love Angie.

Next was Summer Flake, who travelled all the way from Adelaide to ensure that the party was complete with some interstate flavour. Armed with some of Sydney’s finest musos (Matt Banham, Craig Lyons, Sam Wilkinson, Chris Yates) Steph Crase built herself into a confident force of swelling guitars and frankly beautiful music. Her album is a sonic treat, but in live format, she’s unstoppable.

Forever 21 legend and SPOD followed swiftly, ensuring that the ‘party’ portion of the night was well and truly taken care of. A self-decribed ‘…national treasure…’, SPOD makes dance music which you don’t know whether to laugh at or contort your entire existence to. Dressed in a cap and a tucked in grey polo, SPOD prowled around the stage, wetting ears with a variety of songs, including his heavily acclaimed decade-old debut’Taste the Radness’ , (I use this phrase all the time, please don’t sue me SPOD, I love you). Basically, SPOD takes the best parts of Regurgitator and Andrew W.K, and then makes really good music around it. Case in point: opening the set with a song called ‘Deadshits’.  He’s also got a self-deprecating charisma blast that provides more knee-slappers and tummy ticklers than an episode of  How I Met Your Mother. Because setting the bar high in similes is what I do best.

Side-note of regret No. 2: I missed Donny Benet’s set. Sacrilege, I know, the man is a god, and no one makes panty-soaking music quite like he. But I’ve seen him enough times to give a rough estimate of what his show was probably like. His gorgeous, paisley-suit clad figure makes his way on stage, he pumps through synth-wave after synth-wave, and electrocutes the audience with a love making aura not seen or heard since the first time Morgan Freeman narrated something. Instantly, women want him, and men want to be him. ‘Sophisticated Lover’ comes on, and tsunamis of love juice erupt from every crotch in the nearby vicinity. At least, that’s been my experience the last few times I’ve caught him, and I can’t see how he would disappoint this time round. If you have the chance, don’t follow my stead, and go see Donny Benet.

Richard in Your Mind then took the ‘Happy Birthday’ bannered stage to wreak psych-pop havok. They are such a fun band to watch live, simply because their songs are so intrinsically weird, and they pull them off with flair and love. If garden gnomes found a batch of mushrooms growing in the ‘special’ part of the garden,  and happened upon a storage bin of instruments, they would create something like Richard in Your Mind. There’s a shitload of things happening on stage, from Eastern instruments to electronic shenanigans, even a tambourine makes an appearance. The last band to successfully pull of the tambourine was late 90’s era Brian Jonestown Massacre. Overall, Richard in Your Mind got in my mind, twirled and twisted it apart, and then took it o an acid-tinged trip down Happy Street, with occasional stops off at Awesome Street, and Stoked Avenue.

The last act of the night was Straight Arrows, which is around the same level of awesome as getting to have a personal sit down with Han Solo to talk about how badass he is. A few songs in, and the entire set fell into debauchery. Actually, as soon as the first chords of opener ‘Never Enough’ cracked the skulls of the front row, pandemonium reigned supreme. The songs became vehicles for thriving energy, Owen Penglis casting an impossible-to-match enthusiasm and recklessness that made a night on the town with Charlie Sheen look like a Senate meeting. Al Grigg was his partner in crime, screaming and shouting along every lyric and pointing his sparkly red guitar at the crowd and thrusting like he was trying to literally fuck us with his music.

Around the halfway point, things took a turn for the truly memorable. Out came an abundance of party-poppers, streamers and toilet paper, around the ‘It Happens Again’ mark. Soon the stage, band and crowd alike were covered in more coloured paper than a Mardis Gras ejaculation. Owen looked like he  had been draped in the finale of a Sesame Street porno.

Yet Straight Arrows persevered in turning the Roller Den into a broiling mass of throwback 60’s pop funded by a modern partying ethos. The band went so fucking hard on stage, it was like watching a tornado of garage rock brilliance, each track an atomic bomb of awesome. ‘Running Wild’, ‘Something Happens’, and ‘Bad Temper’ were all exceptional standouts, but  in saying that, picking a favourite Straight Arrows track is like trying to pick your favourite Ninja Turtle-they’re all amazing.

After a sweaty rendition of ‘Make Up Your Mind’, the Imperial Hotel will now forever be ingrained in my mind as the time when Straight Arrows completely fucked up my perceptions of what a good performance should entail. But really, every band that night ruled the stage, albeit in their own way. Angie with her confident shredding, Summer Flake with her alluring shoegaze, SPOD with his prowling, addictive personality, and Richard in Your Mind with their psych-pop extravaganza. It was a fantastically diverse lineup, but really that’s just a testament to Rice Is Nice. May Rice Is Nice continue for another 5000 years, and may its firstborn be a healthy child.

Top 10 Things That Happened in 2013

Okay, just to clarify, this isn’t a list about the best shit that happened in 2013 for music. Although most of it is about some of the really, really great shit that happened, some of it is about some of the bad shit that happened in 2013. That is to be expected, so chin up buddy, dry those tears, and think about the sunny day that Violent Soho brought out their sophomore record, and forget about the time that Miley fucked a teddy bear. 

10. Chapter Music and I Oh You Records (tied)

This has just been such a fantastic year for both these top-notch Aussie record labels. Albeit on opposite ends of the music spectrum, and drastically varying in age (Chapter celebrating their 21st Birthday this year, and I Oh You celebrating their 4th), they have both released some of the best tunes this year, and rightfully won their place in the music community. Chapter Music released a stunning 15 or so records this year alone, with records ranging from the ‘dole-wave’ world-conquerers Dick Diver and The Stevens, to the long-awaited debut album from Primitive Calculators and another new one from The Cannanes. Meanwhile, I Oh You was out there putting on tours for the likes of Earlwolf, Foals (DJ’s) and getting the one and only Neon Love together for a reunion show. If that wasn’t enough, I Oh You also put out another one of my favourite records of the year, Violent Soho’s ‘Hungry Ghost’, and Snakadaktal’s debut record. They also managed to be a bunch of cockteasers and put out tantalising singles for City Calm Down and DZ Deathrays. If these labels can keep the pressure, there’s no telling how 2014 will end up.

9. New Shit From Bands That Haven’t Released Shit In A While

Beware, I’m not talking about bands that reformed, or broke their hiatus. I’m talking about bands that have never broken up, but have been ‘illin on the fringes of musical society, just waiting to return to form with strident singles. The aforementioned DZ Deathrays, Straight Arrows, HTRK, The Avalanches, Royal Headache, Seekae-just a few of the bands that blew us away with stand alone releases that said, “Fuck you, we’ve still got it.” If you haven’t checked out any of these singles…do it, you unintelligible ape!

8. Shitty Albums That People Thought Would Be Way Better Than They Actually Were

Ooooh, the first hot topic! I’m not just talking about Daft Punk here, there were so many built up albums this year that fell flatter than an ad campaign for Vaginal Warts. Arctic Monkeys, Sebadoh, No Age…just a short list of albums I listened to that I wish I hadn’t had, so I could dedicate more time to wistfully thinking about making sweet love to Robert Pollard. But that’s not even scratching the surface of bands like Cloud Control, Cults, Weekend, Soft Metals, Obits and Franz Ferdinand. A lot of bands that I was expecting to deliver stunning results returned with meagre offerings that either cruised along on the strength of predecessors, or worse, fucking sucked.

7. Solo Projects

For me, the term ‘solo project’ is a bit of a dirty word. Most of the time, they’re warning stories for the over-eager frontmen and women. Just ask Johnny Borrell, Johnny Marr or Noel Gallagher…if your album isn’t awesome, you kind of lose all credibility,and come off looking like a wanker. But luckily, there was a whole swag of Australian artists that went out on their own and wandered out as deadset legends. Nathan Roche, Angie, Kirin J Callinan, Geoffrey O’Connor, and Alex Cameron are just a couple names that released some stellar records this year that only get better with repeat listens. No point getting too much into it, just go fucking listen to them yourself. Trust me, these records are more on the Bob Dylan side of the solo spectrum, in terms of awesomeness.

6. Boutique Festivals

In a year where shit is getting fucked up ALL over the place for major music festivals, whether it be the gargantuan amount of drug related arrests, Blur cancelling on Big Day Out, or AJ Maddah telling people that their favourite bands suck tremendous amounts of horseshit, major festivals are becoming more and more fucked. I can’t tell you how pissed I was when I missed the chance to see Massive Attack, Superchunk, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Neutral Milk Hotel all in the same place for Harvest festival, only to see it collapse before my very eyes. And lets not even touch on hip-hop festivals this year, with Rap City, Supafest, Movement all being cancelled.

However, with the absence of ya boiz 50 Cent and T.I, boutique festivals have continually outshone their counterparts. The ‘original’ boutique festival, Laneway, has gone international, and their 2013 edition was fucking awesome. Japandroids, Divine Fits and POND all left massive dents in my brain, right were the pleasure centre is located. Other festivals like OutsideIn, Strawberry Fields and the upcoming, sold-out Secret Garden festival (which frankly has the most amazing lineup I’ve ever seen) continue to dominate. Oh, and Sound Summit was one of the most pleasurable and unique experiences of my entire life, a smorgasbord of musical delights that will probably never be collected in the same period again. Fuck me, if boutique festivals become a thing, how the fuck will yadda yadda capitalism, Soundwave, Nova 969, joke, haha.

5. Reformations-the fucking shit and the not-so-shit

Firstly, let’s talk about Black Flag. Maaaaan, did they fuck that one up. One of the all time greatest punk bands became a petty squablling bitch fit of the highest order, and at the end of it all, once-stoked fans where left with an album called ‘What The…’, which compromised of a bunch of piss-take ‘punk’ songs and an album cover that looked like ClipArt threw up. They fucking fired Ron Reyes onstage! Black Flag aside, bands that also wanted money to buy that brand-new toaster and reformed included Boyzone, The Backstreet Boys and Girls vs. Boys. It reads like a list of who-gives-a-shit.

However, on the plus-side, Jurassic 5, Philadelphia Grand Jury, and Powder Monkeys all put aside differences and got stuck into some gigs. And by some miracle, the mother fucking Replacements got together again! What! That’s amazing! I nearly blew a load when I heard that!

4. Electronic Music???

Electronic music has had a confusing year in 2013. On the one hand, there has been some absolutely froth-worthy local shit that has gotten tails wagging and genitals exploding. Touch Sensitive, Wave Racer, Cosmo’s Midnight and Hayden James have had stellar years, and underrated labels like Future Classic, Silo Arts, and Yes, Please have all shot to national attention, like synth induced erections. And let’s not even bother to touch on Flume-that guy gets enough deserved praise.

But in terms of mainstream music, the result has been mixed like a cocktail served by a squirrel with Parkinsons. Of course, Disclosure released that pretty killer album. But the likes of hardstyle trap from the likes of Baauer and DJ Snake, and the legions of mindless DJ’s that trample our radio waves that release forgettable single after another dilutes a lot of the mainstream appeal of electronic music. Not even new albums from Jon Hopkins, and Boards of Canada, or the embracing of the genre from indie rock icons like Arcade Fire and David Bowie, could distract from the likes of Knife Party destroying decent music. Although it is undeniable that electronica had a killer year on the local front, its better to forget that other shit happened outside of our shores.

3. Debuts

Face it, a lot of debuts came out in 2013, and they all rock me better than a hurricane. International props to the likes of Savages, FIDLAR, Eagulls, HAIM, Jackson Scott, SQURL, HUNTERS and Atoms For Peace. But that doesn’t even come close to the amount of talent that pooped out shining nuggets of debut gold this year in Australia. TV Colours, Gooch Palms, Bad//Dreems, Food Court, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Zeahorse, Bloods…the list goes on…and on….and on. Batpiss, Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Reckless Vagina! Unity Floors, Day Ravies, The Stevens, SMILE! These are just a couple of my favourites, but you get the idea. There was a fuckload of bands that popped their cherry and the collective music community lost their shit. Blood was everywhere.

2. Miley Cyrus and the Death of the Child Star

Look, I actually don’t hate Miley Cyrus. I think her music sucks, her taste is awful, she acts and sounds like a spoiled brat and is a living cumstain, but she’s actually the perfect pop star that this generation needs. She’s like The Dark Knight of shitty, over-produced music. And good for her for completely shaking off the goodie Hannah Montana image.

But therein lies my point. The Jonas Brothers broke up this year, the Biebs has conveniently spray-painted, prostituted and retired (?) his way into a ‘bad boy’ image, and we all saw Miley nearly fuck Robin Thicke onstage at the VMA’s. Right now, there isn’t really a glistening child-star to sell t-shirts. Even Lorde, the youngest pop star of the moment is more grown up than the majority of twenty year old hipsters that infect her concerts just to say they saw ‘Royals’. She hung out with fucking David Bowie and Tilda Swinton for her birthday party!

Regardless, 2013 saw the Death of the Child Star, a feat that should both cause us to all be thankful, and astonished.

1. Local Garage Rock Hit a Fucking Peak

Garage rock, my favourite genre, has well and truly hit its peak at the moment, and shows no signs of declining. Seriously, attend any bar in any capital city in Australia, and there’s a 1-in-3 chance that there’s a garage rock band giving it 100% and blowing minds.

Not only is the live scene of garage rock well and truly at a high point, but the albums these bands are making are astoundingly good. Palms and The Gooch Palms released underdog debuts that blew everything out of the fucking water like a land mine in a kiddy pool. TV Colours took the usual formula and added dashing synths and samples to create a tale of fucked-up-ness that’ll have you massacring penguins just to get your hands on some more. And Bad//Dreems single handedly resurrected the sound that was left behind where GOD put it.

Outside of debuts, garage bands that have already established themselves continued to push shit further into the realm of amazeballs. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Witch Hats, Ooga Boogas and fuckloads of others continued to do what they do best-ensure that we, the shitstains of musical society, are enjoying their output more than humanly possible.

As if that isn’t enough, there’s new garage bands springing up all over the place, and the sound still hasn’t been tired out. Bands like Doctopus, The Living Eyes, Tiny Migrants and Adults are just a very small handful of the concoction of rock n roll music that is permeating our ears on a local level. If you haven’t done so, check out all of these bands and more.

We are living in a renaissance of the greatest form of amatuer music in all its forms, and the least you can do is contribute in some small way. 2013 was one of the best years for Australian music, garage and rock n roll specifically, because finally, all the years of hard work that these bands have done has started to pay off exponentially in fantastic records and performances. Get along to a show, buy a record, and ensure that 2014 means that local music is better than the last shitstain of a year.

New: Straight Arrows-Make Up Your Mind (free download)

Anyone who’s even mildly into garage rock would have simultaneously shat their pants and thrown up in excitement. Yep, you read that title correctly, there is indeed a new Straight Arrows song, and about fucking time as well. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because they put out that 7 a couple months back, but now there is concrete evidence that Straight Arrows are going to follow up one of Australia’s best debut records with another undoubtedly fantastic release.

The first taste is ‘Make Up Your Mind’ a fast n loose track that’s like driving around a NASCAR track in a Crash Bandicoot car whilst high on a laboratory’s worth of drugs. The slack-jawed, drooling chorus comes as no surprise with the herpes-like catchy nature, and the whole song reeks of being a future crowd favourite.

Straight Arrows are playing support for Violent Soho all over the country . You can (read: should) see them when they play Oxford Art Factory this Friday.