Video: Pairs-Blue Dress

Fucking here it is, my major label filmography debut, on the video for Pairs’ ‘Blue Dress’. I always thought I’d be an extra in a 50 Cent video, rubbin’ and grindin’ on a weedy gangster with an erection, but I feel like I prefer being in this one. Look for me in my Ramones t-shirt doing something with my arms at the 3:50 mark.

But who gives a fuck about my tiny contribution to this video? I’m just honoured that I got to be a part of such an amazing band’s work. I mean, have you listened to this song? ‘Blue Dress’ is a heart-wrenching tale, something that works it’s way down your throat, and actually pulls out your heart through the cavities. It doesn’t even have the decency to put on a surgical glove to minimise infection! When the chorus of ‘And the girl in the blue dress, is talking through my set. And the louder I play, the louder she gets,’ comes through, you’re not going to want to go through some bullshit cliche, like ‘reach for the tissues’, or ‘wipe away a tear’. No, you’re going to be gasping for air in the flood of salty eye booze that’s filled up whatever cubicle you happen to be listening to the song in.

The whole film clip to this stunning farewell track of Shanghai’s hardest working punk band is just a testament to how two of the world’s nicest people, Rhys and F, have effected so many people with their music. There must be approximately a billion people in that video (or something, I dropped out of Maths a while ago) and they’re all charging along to this shredder of a song. Fucking A, this song really does tug at my impenetrable, emotionless, stone-cold heart.

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Top 10 Australian Albums of 2013

Whoomp, there it is! Or, to be more grammatically correct, here it is. Because, y’know, you’re reading this off some sort of screen, which is on front of you, and not somewhere else, which is what the preposition of there implies.

Look, I was trying to make a reference to Tag Team’s 1993 smash hit, and smoothly initiate an article about the best Australian albums of 2013, but it failed in a brutal showing of grammatical error. Anyway, as I clumsily try to regain my poise, let me say that 2013 has been a killer year for Australian records. On the International scene, there haven’t been absolutely tonnes of records that have held people’s gaze for the full year, but in Aussie-land, home of snuggies and the ‘ocker’ stereotype, there have been leaps and bounds in every genre available. Its cruel to pick just ten, but here we are, in a state of despair. Woe is I, for we art doomed to live in a state of existential pit of despair wrought by picking just ten albums for lists. Please….empathise.

Super Dooper Special (as in all tied Equal 11th) mentions go to Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, The Ocean Party, Day Ravies, Unity Floors, and Ooga Boogas.

Special Mentions go to Clowns, Amateur Drunks, Standish/Carlyon, Pikelet, The Living Eyes, Golden Blonde, Ausmuteants, The Drones and The Native Cats.

Super Duper Ultra Special Metal Album: Zeahorse-Pools

The sludge! The intensity! The gruel! Its like Jack Black once said in Tenacious D’s ‘The Metal’, ‘…you can’t kill the metal, the metal will live on’. As it does on Zeahorse’s debut record ‘Pools’. Stagnant marshes of filthy reverb and disgusting bass-lines make this a riveting listen, plunging you head first into a swirling world full of blackness and awesome sludgery.

10. Yes, I’m Leaving-Mission Bulb

Not since Fugazi has a punk band come so blindingly close to marrying the intense anti-establishment message of punk with blindingly good melodies. For Yes, I’m Leaving, a band with both an excellent name, a fantastic live show and even greater songs, its just another day making great fucking songs. Yes, I’m Leaving don’t really make a misstep on ‘Mission Bulb’, just chugging out those razor sharp punk songs like they’re a supergroup made from Patti Smith, Ian McKaye, Keith Morris, and Jello Biafra, and the old guy with a sledge hammer on the cover is replaced by Henry Rollins. Perfection!

9. Primitive Calculators-The World Is Fucked

Never have you heard something as vicious and in-your-face until you’ve witnessed the sheer terror of a Prim Calcs track. Finally, after all this time…the band have gotten around to releasing a debut studio album. Its not like Australia’s been waiting over thirty years for this thing! Thankfully, the album paid off like robbing a bank vault Die Hard 3 style, both a physical and emotional pay-off. Not for a moment do the band let up, blasting our brain cells one super charged synth-punk anthem after another.

8. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys-Ready For Boredom

Another debut record, another awesome band name. You could say its a combination of the previous two entries, but you’d be wrong because the Bad Boys sound fuck all like the other two bands. Instead, they pick up where The Replacements left off on ‘Pleased to Meet Me’-emotionally charged everyman’s rock n roll. It belongs in a pub, three-schooners-down, with one eye on the rugby game in the corner and one eye on its uncertain future. However, if the band can keep churning out the hit factory and overall nice package that is ‘Ready For Boredom’, they should be sorted for a very long time.

7. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard-Float Along-Fill Your Lungs

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times-King Jizz are the Darwin Evolution theory in practice. Starting out with bare-bones ramshackle rock n roll and slowly developing into the psych rock band we now see a year and a half later. However, they never lost any of the zeal and flavour they had on the ‘Willoughby’s Beach EP’ way back when, and can still manage to excite and boner-ise with their longer stuff as they can with any two minute electric shock.

6. POND-Hobo Rocket

Its a mini-album, deal with it. It was still too awesome to leave off the list. Its over-the-top glam rock, but not as you know it. If David Bowie was gobbled by some sort of psychedelic monster, and laid to waste by a plethora of Wayne Coyne clones, then you might get something as fun, frantic and off the fucking hook as ‘Hobo Rocket’. It dodges, dips, dives, ducks and dodges between all different sorts of vibes and frequencies, a restless creature if you’ve ever heard one. And boy, does it fucking sound amazing.

5. Cut Copy-Free Your Mind

‘Free Your Mind’ can’t really be defined as a return to form because Cut Copy never lost their form (go listen to ‘Zonoscope’ again, and try to feel any inkling of disappointment). Instead, ‘Free Your Mind’ continues the Cut Copy legacy, leaping and bounding into acid-house territory. The Madchester warehouse vibes are certainly there, mingling with the indie pop sensibility that Cut Copy own so hard like I own a massive Sonic Youth poster so hard. You’ll dance, you’ll think, you’ll cry and you’ll dance again, all within the confines of ‘Meet Me in a House of Love’. Isn’t Cut Copy just the greatest invention?

4. Violent Soho-Hungry Ghost

The cover-a skeleton engulfed in flames. Now that’s how you garner some fucking attention. Or, you could just stir up some of the most heart-pounding, adrenaline-inducing, mouth-watering rock songs this side of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Most of the songs on ‘Hungry Ghost’ are anthems, no doubt about it. Try to listen to a chorus of ‘Hell FUCK YEAH!’ without forming some sort of death circle in whatever location you happen to be in. In completely unrelated news, death by moshpits have gone up 215% in nursing homes that play Triple J. But that’s not all there is to ‘Hungry Ghost’, as the team manage to cook up a couple of heart-warming surprises throughout. More delicious than an angel made of bacon.

3. Palms-Step-Brothers

I guess the reason why Palms are such a great band is because they’re doing something that’s been done so many times before, but putting such an original stamp on it, that you can’t help but do a quintuple take. That’s right, your head will spin a minimum of five times as you try to reconsider your life without Palms in it. There’s so much to swallow when listening to ‘Step Brothers’, but not in a bad way. No, going through this, you’ll be gulping through as much musical content as possible to get all that Palm-y goodness in your spirit ASAP.

2. The Gooch Palms-Novo’s

Speaking of Palms, The Gooch Palms came in with one of the strongest musical entities of the year. However, whilst Palms channel Springsteen, Goochies are all about The Ramones. Bratty, snotty punk, farted out into the willing ears of all lucky enough to listen. However, The Gooch Palms show a surprising diversity, and with the mixture of shameless pop ballads, rain-soaked bummer ear-catchers and leather-jacket FUCK YEWWW’s, you can’t feel bored, even for a second. Rock n Roll runs in the veins of Kat and Leroy and to deny them of that would mean to say that this album doesn’t make you immediately want to strip off all your clothes, run down a highway and spread the word of the Almighty Gooch.

P.S The Gooch Palms and Palms are teaming up for a tour called Palmarama, and they’re playing Oxford Arts Factory on Friday, 28th February. Miss this and perish in a pit of regret.

1. TV Colours-Purple Skies, Toxic River

Surprise, fucking surprise. The album that I can never stop blabbering about comes in at No. 1 on my list of the top Australian records of 2013. Bias aside, if you don’t like this album, then seriously, nothing can be done for you. You are a lost cause. A total travesty of a human being. This album is perfection, a lulling, mesmerising concoction of deadly riffs, lo-fi production, cheesy synths and samples, rolled into a bundle of delights that the world has never seen before. Even though Bobby Kill took two years to make this record, it was worth every minute of waiting for this fucking masterpiece. God Bless TV Colours!

Album Review: Narrow Lands-Popuar Music That Will Live Forever

a2557447284_2 Okay, so type Popular Music into your little Google Search bar, and it’ll probably come up with Rihanna and Drake and all that other shit. Type Popular Music Of All Time, you’ll get something like Elvis and Madonna and The Rolling Stones. Now, type Popular Music That Will Live Forever into the search bar, and you’ll stumble upon a little known sludge band from Sydney called Narrow Lands. Their debut 8-track LP is more brutal than being fucked with scissors, and their sound is like Cancer Bats x EyeHateGod, or Refused getting tied down in a torture chamber by The Jesus Lizard.

Although those are some pretty damned dark descriptions, Narrow Lands are fucking fun to listen to. Going through ‘Popular Music That Will Live Forever’, you’re jaw will drop multiple times until its a useless item of skin and teeth crawling along the floor. The album is unbelievably brutal, scathing in every sound and scorching in every riff.

 

For those that have been skipping daintily along to the likes of Maroon 5, probably not a good idea to listen to this album. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to sludge, because that is way fucking better than whatever audible sewage is being pumped throughout your ear vessels. But start with Kyuss or something. However, for those initiated in the ways of the mud-lined oozing hardcore, Narrow Lands couldn’t be more perfect.

Opener ‘Triple J Drive Time Hit’ sets the tone perfectly, blood-curdling bass and guitar screaming intermittently over a simple snare, until the growling turns into a gargantuan ape-squeal, more soul-crushing in nature than being rejected by (shock, horror!) a woman. However, things only get better on the following track ‘Whores Rule’, a belter that doesn’t stop pulverising your mind. Both a nod of respect to local heroes Whores and a savage takedown on corporate fuckery.

Oh no, the beat-down doesn’t stop there, lyrically or musically. ‘Blue Blood’ turns things up to 11, a fucking mental sweating song that vomits noise everywhere like that douchebag that invited himself to your 18th birthday party. This song caresses harrowing viciousness like I cradle a bundle of newly heated nachos, and the bloodshot guitar really shows itself off int this track to a truly magnificent extent. And you couldn’t forget the eight-minute closer ‘Invitation’, which, funnily enough, welcomes you into a swarming cloud of Swans-like content that will swallow you up, and burn all your other favourite artists to the ground.

Maybe its because I listened to this album right as I started going through a massive sludge/hardcore phase again (thanks to Batpiss and METZ last night for that), but Narrow Lands especially stick out in my mind as something that every self-respecting hardcore punk fan should own. Their music is dirty and vile, and just the way we shitheads like it. But ‘Popular Music…’ also manages to be diverse, switching between full-fledged brutality and self-assured noise meanderings. When you can listen to all of that without even the concept of being bored crossing your mind, you know you’ve found one hell of a band.

You can score the record at the Tenzenmen Bandcamp here, for $20 or $5. Isn’t the guise of choice wonderful?

Album Review: Alpine Decline-Visualizations

a2222138628_2Post-modernism runs abound on this record from Chinese band Alpine Decline, as far-off vocals and Charlie Sheen-ed guitar (that is, guitars that bleed, and bleed, but show no signs of stopping, and are therefore incredibly impressive), intermingle for a stunning result. ‘Visualizations’ talks like this: college rock bands of far, far gone (Teenage Fanclub, or if Ride were fucking The Jesus and Mary Chain) mixed with some blood-stained My Bloody Valentine and Japandroids, and channelled through the wide eyed-teenage harmonies of Youth Lagoon.

However, there’s a bit more nihilistic tendency in this record than the wafting indie fragrances of someone like Youth Lagoon. Also, the songs seem to go on forever, which can occasionally be a bad thing. However, as long as Alpine Decline are pushing forth with their music, and not lying back and letting their melodies fall on them like some sort of anvil falling on Wile. E Coyote.

The album opens with a very promising tune, ‘Avalanche!’ a song that for the most part, is content to ring out hollow vocals, and flip switches of genius. The chorus of ‘A Cathedral of Stone!’ rings especially strongly, as the college rock riffs comfortably wash over you, but the thing that gives this song real gusto is the noise-rock melting pot that occurs, turning your average rock into a frizzy haired acid wash of mind-bending darkness. Yeah, it’s pretty fucking heavy, especially with the sound up. This train of thought is continued into the second track ‘Enter the Bullet’: cool but soft opening, giving way to a holocaustic and ferocious noise section that swallows the listener whole. Honestly, listening to Alpine Decline is an experience, both horrifying, otherworldly and incredibly cool, like hanging out with those awesome underwater creatures that live in the Marian Trench.

Bar ‘The Totem’, which is the finest track on this record due to its full realisation of gothy poignancy, smoky feedback and catchy nature (it’s like Robert Smith and Robert Pollard had the coolest baby in the world), ‘Visualizations’ ambles along, content with being a really awesome sounding album. The songs don’t really make you snap your neck in an effort to find out the name, but they do sound weird and smooth enough to warrant a consistent thought pattern of ‘fuck, I like this’, and you’ll probably find yourself quite full when the record is done. There won’t be a sense that the record has left you feeling ripped off, nor does the band overdue it. In a world of excess, and bonus tracks wherever you turn, having the skill to turn on and off the tap  to leave the listener in a state of bliss is a thankful one indeed.

You can pick up ‘Visualizations’, for $7/$15 on the Tenzenmen Bandcamp right here, very worth it for such a palatable record.

Album Review: Golden Blonde-Gwen

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Every time, without fail, Tenzenmen pop up with a new album, I give it a spin, and say to myself, ‘Ryan, you ginger schmuck, this is one of the best things you’ve heard. Ever’. Without breaking the pattern, I’ve been handed the debut album from Sydney siders and biters Golden Blonde, and it is truly. fucking. amazing. It’s a completely original and captivating album from start to finish, interesting and weird (like you expected anything else from tenzenmen you rookie) ‘Gwen’ is better than Gwyneth Paltrow/Stefani will ever be. Ever.

If you’re a fan of the recent Atoms for Peace album, or Bjork, Radiohead, and Animal Collective in general, you will straight up implode upon hearing this album. It’s the bee’s knees…no fuck it, it’s the whole bee. However, don’t get too comfortable with the comparisons. Besides the intro for ‘Birch Bark’ which (figuratively) borrows from ‘Everything in It’s Right Place’ and ‘Fuji’, which recalls Bjork in a heavy way, this whole album is original content, executed in fine, fine, fine form. Do you understand how fine it is? It’s finer than Marilyn Monroe’s skin, in the un-creepiest way possible (Editor’s Note: Remove the Marilyn Monroe reference, that’s creepy as fuck, yo)

The thing Golden Blonde are best at are soaring, interrogating songs that pick you up and make you travel through space and time, like Flash Gordon meets the eagles from the end of The Lord of the Rings. Take a look at ‘We Begin’, an old track for the band that’s lost none of it’s poignancy or dreamy satire. Also, check ‘Oak’ for some sleepy pink jazz-rock, ‘Lint’, with it’s triangular, going-down-the-rabbit-hole drum and key pattern, and ‘Fuji’ is deliciously hurt, droning organ chords jilting the listener asleep and awake, the world’s most musical alarm clock.

But then there are the moments of soft intensity, those are some fuckers that really grab you. The aforementioned ‘Birch Bark’, five minutes of searching masochism, ‘Clarinet’ is a serial killer’s cool down track and ‘Triage’ alternates between murderous gospel and tribal pitter-patter tones, and fluffy guitar chants. Then there’s ‘Joan’, in which letting loose is encouraged. Skeletal percussion accompanies repeated phrases that can only get more disturbing. ‘Joan’ ends with the listener both sufficiently confused and satisfied, trailing piano raining hellfire on stomped out instrumental and far-off vocals.

All round, it’s stuff that’s going to make you perk your ears but is chilled enough that you won’t be raging around the room like the goddamn psychopath you are. It’s experimental, gorgeous and deep music, the thinking man’s experimental music. Golden Blonde know when to get weird, and when to chill things out, which is a relief, because occasionally Fuck Buttons can get a bit too much (I love FB, but they don’t need to be on11 the whole time). So, if you’re looking to chill and challenge, you needn’t go further than Golden Blonde’s ‘Gwen’.

Album Review: Bone-For Want of Feeling

ImageImagine you’re in your local record store. On your right side, there is the brand spanking new Selena Gomez album, selling for a measly $19.99. It’s got some ripper tracks on there, your sure of it. I mean, she’s bangin’ the Biebz, what could go wrong? When you’ve seen a nutsack swimming with that much talent, the results can only be stellar. But on your left, there’s something by a band called Bone. It looks pretty minimalistic, and there’s definitely no pretty colours. In fact, it looks downright morbid, with the chessboard, and killing contraption that seems to have mutilated the shit out of someone. ‘For Want of Feeling’? Of course I want feeling! You reach your hand towards the new Selena Gomez album (obviously). Then you awake from your nightmare! Thank god, shit could’ve gotten fucked up in a second (sorry Portia).

In traditionally forward thinking style, the Sydney label tenzenmen were the ones to release this abrasive debut LP. It kicks and huffs like a wild eyed horse, the mania swarming like hellfire in it’s eyes. Every track on here is a searing portrait, a bastion of hellish sounds that contort and twist into something Pinhead from Hellraiser would probably be pretty content to jam to. Stoic and upright, the noise is one of brutal punk, but slowed down to devilish and sinister levels. It’s like what shoul have happened for Black Flag after ‘Slip It In’.

‘For Want of Feeling’ caresses a heavy bass line, duelling squallish guitar with pounding drums that march haphazardly with forebodingly militaristic strength. The album becomes increasingly dark as it progresses, and loses none of it’s genuine dramatic tension, a laudable effort within itself. The storming energy is consistent with every track, and Bone manage to push each note and scream to it’s mind-numbing length. If Maynard James Keenan went all incognito and decided to create a new band from the depths of Melbourne, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bone were that band. Of course, they aren’t the brain child of ‘A Perfect Rambler’ Keenan, as Bone get a lot more to the point and are able to smash their song into smithereens and emerge like the gnashing titans they are, rather than prolong things into redundancy as Tool are apt to do.

Alarm bells ringing in their guitars and bass, the longer songs like ‘Bath Time’, ‘See the Boy’ and ‘Pedestal’ are the standouts on ‘For Want of a Feeling’. It’s not that the other tracks are shit or anything, far from it. It’s just with that extra minute or so, Bone really develop the gruel and growl to another beast entirely. It’s crazy shit to listen to, and no doubt witness. Fuck this band just sound better and better the more I listen to them.

So, to reiterate the point I was making at the beginning of this review, if the thought of purchasing the new Selena Gomez album was crossing your mind….just think for a second. Instead of contributing to the downfall of mankind, support some of the best droning punk this side of the galaxy. I’m sure E.T’s mates are in a pretty cool crust-punk band and all that, but until they get their shit together and put out a demo, the honours go to Bone, and their drool embraced ‘For Want of Feeling’.

You can stream two of the albums stellar tracks, ‘See the Boy’ and ‘Pedestal’ from their Bandcamp, but I gotta warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.

Album Review: Yes, I’m Leaving-Mission Bulb

Finally, I’m going to bring back some punk to this blog. It’s kind of been bogged down with the illustrious scene of garage, and negative reviews of a certain French house duo’s recently disapointingly overhyped album, but the time has come to delve back into the realm of punk. Sydney hasn’t really had a definitive flag-bearer for the punk category as of late. I’m not talking about old school legends like The Hard-Ons, Radio Birdman or The Celibate Rifles, or the awesome garage styled punk of bands like Royal Headache or Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys. I’m talking about the intense, lit up, bonfire kind of punk, that screams and ricochets through your brain at ungodly speeds, and with the fury of a warthog on meth. However, that has all changed with the recent release of Yes, I’m Leaving’s album ‘Mission Bulb’.

As of May 22nd, the boys from Parramatta have just released their third record, and second on Tenzenmen Records, a local label that can’t seem to do bad. If it’s unique, and it’s good, there’s a solid chance it got released on Tenzenmen. If you see the name, and you’re into having your earholes petrified, ensure you grab it. For a bit of context, they’ve released stuff by heroes such as Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing, Hira Hira, and Skip Skip Ben Ben. Not just content with releasing the best of heavy stuff, Tenzenmen also delve into releasing just plain fantastic alternative stuff, as the last band I mentioned will prove. However, Tenzenmen mainly release heavy, expiremntal and punk stuff, and it’s always going to be a thrill ride, one way or another, as ‘Mission Bulb’ proves. Yes, I’m Leaving have been around on the scene for a little while, gigging and honing their craft of Dischord Records-like punk to a nihilistic perfection, and it comes out for sure on the record.

The mention of Dischord above was not a throwaway either. Yes, I’m Leaving certainly contains the drawl and angry drive of bands like Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses or Rites of Spring. Each song on the record pushes forth with a ferocity that only a genuine band like the aforementioned actually possessed. This is an incredibly rare, and beautiful thing to listen to. To actually hear the self-hating and snarling lyrics on ‘Four Chorder’: ‘And as I look in the mirror, I just see my eyes/ the reflection of you that has been compromised’ followed by an undulating, harshly screamed chorus is proof that punk’s not dead. This is all wrapped in a killer Drive Like Jehu-lite riff that hooks the listener with sharp daggers of crazy venom. A pleasure to listen to.

The entire album is like this, just picturesque punk done in slam-dancing, white eyed rage, blaring like the horn of a truck barrelling down on a highway. Every line is sent with the vocal chords straining to their limit, the guitars bleeding a sound of coarse deliverance, unholy and beckoning. The drums crash and force the beat into near oblivion, and the bass is so blazing it’s just a tornado of sound. Lead singer Billy Burke deserves special mention for his nasally sing-song shout; it is this unique voice, as well as the excellent musicianship, that separates Yes, I’m Leaving from the usual punk kerfuckle (not a spelling error), and gives the songs the hurtling-to-a-precipice tone that is rare and very appreciated.

The plunging, razor-edged tone of ‘Mission Bulb’ is a jackhammar to the gonads; a perpetual state of nose-dive affairs that highlights disaster in the most infectious way possible. It’s an untainted record, brimming with noisy capability, catastrophically good, and will give you nosebleeds in the opening chords. It’s the album that punks the world over have all been waiting for, and it’s just Sydney’s luck that they picked up these bruisers. I highly recommend getting this album, so you have something to listen to next time you want to punch a helicopter into dust, because you’re just that fucking mad!

Yes, I’m Leaving are playing in Sydney at The Casula Powerhouse June 7th, and at Black Wire Records June 29th. I’m pretty sure their live show is better than seeing donkeys guillotine Optimus Prime. You can buy ‘Mission Bulb’ and their previous Tenzenmen release ‘Nothing’ for a coupla bucks off their Bandcamp, and their debut is going for free. Enjoy some o’ that gewwwwwwwwd punk.