Volumes 2016 Mixtape

13342972_902563493199392_7275202565506079043_n

Last year, Sydney got a huge leg up in the form of Volumes Festival, a multi-venue event that put a spotlight on all the fan-fucking-tastic music we get to call our own in this city, as well as a 11/10 show from Blank Realm. Even the piece of shit writing this sentence had a pretty good time!

Which is why I’m really happy that Volumes will be returning for another year! Not only have the team expanded to include an extra day and the Burdekin Hotel amongst last year’s venue collective of The Oxford Art Factory, Brighton Up Bar and Cliff Dive, but they’ve delivered a lineup that forces even a chode like myself to concede a gasp of “Wow…”.

The full lineup and tickets can be scored here, but if ya want a pick of the best of the bunch, read on below:

BV

Formerly known as Black Vanilla, the Friday night headliners will be bringing their ferociously dark party to Volumes for a night of hedonism. In their own words: “No once cares how well you move, so just move”.

FISHING

The last time I saw FISHING, they rapped in French, and then brought up the Al Wright from Cloud Control for a song that sounded like the spiritual successor to Underworld’s “Born Slippy”. I don’t know how the hell they’ll be able to top that, but after months away, honing new material, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that FISHING’s return to the stage will see a truly crazy performance.

Rainbow Chan

Rainbow Chan is definitely the best thing in electronic music right now. Every time I see, hear or even think about her music, the words “jilted pop perfection” brand themselves into my brain. Her debut album will be out by the time she hits the stage for the first night of Volumes, so make sure you get a good spot early, because you’ll be one of the thousands clamouring to catch the biggest sensation of 2016.

Donny Benet

It’s been far too long since the ripple of Donny’s smooth and sensual touch has been felt. The sophisticated lover will be sparing no expense on the Saturday night, enrapturing all those who dare to feel the heat. Fuck, I’m licking my lips just thinking about this.

Unity Floors

I’ll take any excuse to belt out “Nice Fit” and all the other classic hits these guys have made over the years. UF’s second album Life Admin should be out by the time Volumes hits, so there’s plenty of time to learn the lyrics to all the new classics as well.

Rolling Blackouts CF

Someone once called Rolling Blackouts CF “…the best band ever…”, and that someone is me.

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, the third best Neighbours-themed band from Melbourne, hardly make the trek to Sydney anymore, so any opportunity to see them should not be missed. Besides all the classics like “Rejected”, “Lesbian Wife” and “Jackie Boy”, they also do a killer cover of the Go-Betweens’ “Karen”, so make sure you’re front and centre when they tear Brighton Up Bar a new one.

The Harpoons

I’ve sorely missed The Harpoons’ R&B-tinged synth pop – it’s lip-biting, misty eyed stuff, and I’m filled with anticipation at the mere thought of swaying along with hundreds of others to “Unforgettable”.

Summer Flake

Summer Flake’s Hello Friends has been my ‘Album of the Week’ for the past three months – I’m a lazy shit who keeps forgetting to update that section of the website, but there’s also a hint of truth to my mistake. Summer Flake’s disarming honesty, golden guitar and harrowing voice makes her the perfect recipient of such a prestigious award. Can’t wait to catch Steph Crase and co. when they swing through Sydney again!

 

Volumes 2016 takes place on Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th of August, all up and down Oxford St. Once again, tix and full lineup here.

Advertisements

Album Review: Summer Flake – Time Rolls By EP

TRB4.231719

Late last year, Summer Flake (aka Melbourne via Adelaide’s Steph Crase) dropped ‘Son of a Gun’, and the sounds of hearts shattering could be heard around the world. It was allegedly the first single of a sophomore album, fresh from the best Adelaide export since West End Draught and Matt Banham, and I couldn’t have been happier.

A year has passed, and that “forthcoming” album has remained elusive. However, just as we were about to return to Robert Smith for a companion in the most dire of times, Steph has released an EP of brand new material and a Stones cover. In true Summer Flake fashion, the songs are raw, honest, and tug at the heartstrings more than the mention of the 1997 Grand Final around a Sea Eagles supporter.

The whole thing is essential, but particular standouts on this EP go to “Sun Won’t Shine” and “Makes Me Wanna Die”. The former has the approval of Henry “I Kinda Started Hardcore, Yeah” Rollins, a five minute wallow in the mire of guitar dirge and Steph’s incredible voice. She shines here, despite the title, but its her lyrics here that make the track stand out, cruising through the darkest depths of anxiety and bleakness.

The latter track, despite sharing a name with a song that actually does make me want to kill myself, is fantastic because it could work just as easily in an intimate moment of joy, as it could when you’re huddled by yourself under the blankets at 4pm on Saturday. It drifts on a simple guitar strum, splashes of a drum, and the Summer Flake mantra, “Makes me wanna cry”.

For many, Summer Flake echoes our own fragility – her voice is a gentle lullaby, but booms with heartbreak. The greatest thing here is that her music feels universal – it doesn’t single out one demographic, and concentrate all of its energy in appealing to that single group. Come one, come all! Teenagers, war veterans, game show hosts, it doesn’t matter your race, creed, footy team, brand of smokes, whatever. If you’ve ever felt down in the dumps, alone, a little bit helpless, Steph understands, and her music and tone reflects that. Part Neil Young, part Yo La Tengo, and part Eric’s Trip, she guides you through the shits with a soft hand and quaint voice.

So we might not have that full-length record from Summer Flake that we all crave. But at least we haven’t gone a full year without any material from one of Australia’s most underrated. 2015 has birthed a full EP of breathtaking music to accompany us at our most cracked and distraught. Honestly, wouldn’t you much prefer to spend those lumpy-throat moments with someone as sincere and comforting as Summer Flake? Thought so.

Summer Flake’s ‘Time Rolls By’ EP is available now on Rice is Nice Records, and you can grab it on the ol’ iTunes here. A limited run of cassettes will be appearing October 17th. If you’re around on the 16th, make sure you come to the free Rice is Nice Mixtape Vol. 3 launch at Waywards w/ Zeahorse (!), White Dog (!), and Us the Band (!). Oh yeah, Soundly Sounds DJ’s are going to be DJ’ing as well. I just downloaded AC/DC’s best of, so it should be a great set.

New: Summer Flake + Alex Lahey + Fern

SummerFlakepicMarch2014.231645

I’d love to give each of these women their own little post, because god knows they deserve it. But these tracks have gone undocumented for too long, and I’m afraid that if I let it go any longer then I won’t get to lay claim about being into them before they were headlining Coachella. Bragging rights are pretty much the only reason I exist, and it’s taken too long for me to post about these tracks. Look, what I’m saying is that I’m fucking lazy –  give us a break, I’ve been watching the #libspill with my parents, I’ve been doing some real productive shit.

Summer Flake – The Sun Won’t Shine

Summer Flake returns with her trademark stab of evocative songwriting. She’s in full flight with “The Sun Won’t Shine”, a song that’s delivered with all the potent beauty that Steph Crase’s voice is capable of (hint: a fuck tonne). BUT BE WARNED! Listen to the lyrics and prepare to burst into tears. If you want to just go about your life, drinking coffee and ruling at Instagram, then feel free to float along with the clinking guitars and Summer Flake’s gorgeous vocals. Take even the mildest peep into the words coming from her mouth, and you’ll be opened to a world of nihilistic self-criticism. In saying that, Summer Flake is probably the only one who can make you giggle to a line like “You’ve got no chance of ever succeeding”. She’s a real charmer like that

P.S Let’s smile at our insecurities together this weekend when Summer Flake plays at the Small World Festival. Palms, Jack Ladder, DZ Deathrays and the fucking CHURCH are playing as well.

Alex Lahey – Air Mail

Take a look at that photo. Shit, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a Courtney Barnett Jr. – cool looking lady that you can’t help but want to be best mates with after a glance, wearing a normal sweater and shoulder length brunette hair. Jesus, she’s even standing in front of a homemade nature painting. MILK! OI MILK! I GOT YA NEXT SIGNING! RIGHT BLOODY HERE!

Actually, I was impressed with Alex Lahey before I pressed the play button, and it’s got nothing to do with any sort of likeness to another Melbournite. She also plays in Animaux, and makes an appearance in the new Tully on Tully clip; but her solo material moves far away from the electro-pop stylings of the former two. “Air Mail” is a simple, plucky tune, anchored by a steady, honeyed voice – on her debut, Lahey manages to be catchy without relying on any cliched tricks. She simply sings about body parts and love (don’t be fucking gross ya muppet) and wraps the whole thing up in less than three minutes. How’s that for a bloody Cinderella effect? Well produced and buoyant, Lahey has made a spot on pop song and what’s more, she sounds like she’s done it before having the first sip of a morning coffee. Well worth keeping an eye on this one.

Fern – It Comes Slow

This is a slow burner. Like, Sixth Sense levels of slow burner. Nearly running into five minutes, Fern drop a few subtle hints of how awesome its gonna get/the fact that Bruce has been a ghost THIS ENTIRE TIME. We’ve got lush vocals, a nice palette of instrumentation, and tantalising pushes in the chorus that hint at something more. It’s not until the finale were the potential is unlocked: the guitars churn to an impossible rate, Willis collapses to his knees and the audience lets out a collective “OH FUCK, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”. Just do us a favour Fernies, don’t go the way of M. Night Shyamalan. Nobody needs another bloody Village.

Album Review: Weak Boys – Weekdays/Weekends

Weak Boys are a band that are so fucking unrequited, it’s like all three members were Jeff Daniels, the epitome of underrated-ness. Weak Boys should be poster boys for Australia, and yet they only have a measly 186 likes as of publication time. That statistic right there is proof of a cruel world. What could they be doing wrong? The album cover is a photo of a dog cuter than a baby seal in a band outfit, mini trombone and all. I mean, that alone should have every single member of Cool Dog Group falling over each other in an effort to click that prestigious blue thumbs-up. And they have songs so instantly iconic, they’re like Uluru or that fucking annoying little multicoloured spinny wheel.

For a bit of a reference point, Weak Boys slot in nicely as gruffer version of all the modern legends of Twerps, Full Ugly and Dick Diver, mixed heartily with classic jangle i.e The Clean,The Go-Betweens, The Cannanes. However, the thing that makes Weak Boys stand apart is the ability to be both self-aware, and completely absorbed. “Weekdays/Weekends” is full of songs that’ll make you laugh heartily, golden comedy nuggets that you’d expect nothing less of from THE Matt Banham of Matt Banham’s Jokes Internet Infamy. But it’s also packed with slices of truth that not even Truman Capote himself was capable of worming out of a pen.

To begin with, Weak Boys released the stellar song “Hangovers”, which I maintain to be one of the songs of the year, along with Blank Realm’s “Falling Down the Stairs”, Richard in Your Mind’s “Hammered”, and Dorsal Fins’ “Monday Tuesday”. It was a hilarious song delivered in deadpan, about how much waking up on Sunday was, and how shitty kids were. As a fellow kid, I can definitively confirm that 90% of people under the age of 21 are deadshits, including myself. For comparison, the deadshit factor only drops to 10% once over the age of 21, but hey, those are just cold, hard facts. Anyway, “Hangovers” is an awesome song, insanely catchy, great video, it made you want to spew in jealousy it’s so good. But, was it a total indicator of the album?

In a way, both yes, and no. Yes, every song has a little bit of comedy to it, but whilst some are light-hearted pokes set to simple but riveting guitar-pop, like “Jules, Brent & I” and “Fucken Landlords”, others are intensely dark and troubling, black comedy manifestos. Whereas “South Australia” yelps about getting pissy and moving out of our nation’s butt of jokes, all to the tune of some ecstatic guitar solos, “Never Drinking Again” deals with the same themes, but with such a solemn choke that you can’t help but want to reach through the song and give the bloke a hug. Similarly, “Settled” is a doozy of a depressor, a greyscale sigh about the troubles of being in the constantly stressing life that is the modern condition. When the words of, “Grab a butcher’s knife, and settle down/happiness would be rife, if I could settle down”, I automatically cried out a “NO!”, like I’d just seen Mufasa topple off a cliff for the first time. Think about that for a second – when was the last time you had an audible reaction to a song?

I went into this Weak Boys record with high expectations. After all, these three unassuming guys have been in bands as awesome as Little Lovers and Dollar Bar, so why wouldn’t their record be a bunch of bloody fun? But when listening to the thing, you can’t help but think…fuck, this is a masterpiece. A lot of people were obsessed over the Lower Plenty “Nullarbor” record a few years back, and “Weekdays/Weekends” appears to be the updated, Sydney reply to that album – just a strong, honest and genuine album booming with talent, perfect in every way. It’s hard to imagine Weak Boys not becoming iconic in some way or another, it’s just a matter of how big. As one of the most complete and fulfilling albums in recent Australian lore, I strongly urge, nay command thee, to buy this album.

‘Weekdays/Weekends” is out now on Strong Look Records. Grab it at the link.

New: Summer Flake – Son of a Gun

This one’s so hot off the press that I burnt myself when I pressed play. Now that I’ve committed myself to one shitty pun, and the Pun Demons (TM) have released me until midnight, I can completely indulge in my love for Summer Flake.

This song may be one of the most beautiful things Steph Crase has ever put together. In all seriousness, this song makes me want to weep, and I’m a manly-man, who likes sports and The Bachelor. Imagine what it’s going to do to a mere mortal like yourself. When those struggling guitars swell beneath her voice, it’s like I’m watching a David Attenbroough documentary about heatrtbreak. The fact that she’s able to squeeze in an absolutely amazing little guitar solo of noisy AND intimate squeals sets my heart into dangerous palpitations.

If this were the 90’s, this song would have a bidding war involving multiple assassinations. Now that it’s the 21st Century, prepare yourself for WWIII.

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.