Video: The Ocean Party – Back Bar

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

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

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

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

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New: No Local – Thinking the Wrong Things

12977220_1549345078693189_582633036424664137_oI’ve had the severe displeasure of growing up in suburb that doesn’t have a decent pub for km’s. You have to drive for twenty minutes before a schnitty special even crops up, and even then, you’re looking at a price that would make the average punter balk. So, when a band that comes around with a name like No Local – a two word phrase that sums up the existensial dread felt by every Australian lacking their home away from home – you’ve gotta dive in head first.

On top of having the most spot-on band name in recent memory, No Local is also the new vehicle for Zac and Snowy from The Ocean Party, which means that even though “Thinking the Wrong Things” is their first song, it’s a bloody good one. Lush pop that features whirring synths, a grumbling bass line and Snowy’s instantly recognizable breezy voice.

No Local are playing a few shows at the Tote this week: Thursday night as part of Shining Bird’s “Helluva Lot” single launch (also w/  Lowtide and Glaciers) and on Friday as part of the Zone Out album launch.

A Comprehensive List Of Everything I’ve Forgotten To Write About in The Past Three Months: Pt. 2 Guitar Pop

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It took about a month to follow up part one of all the shit I forgot to write about for the past three months, and I was considering throwing the towel in and start covering all the latest goss on the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, but a lot of this stuff is so great that I’ve convinced myself to postpone my Flea think pieces for a few extra days.

 

Ocean Party – Mess + Noise Critics Poll 2015

R.I.P  Mess + Noise, Long Live The Ocean Party! This little mini-album is absolutely fantastic! If you’d like some more in-depth analysis on this album, someone on Bandcamp described it as a collection of “…moist beats…”, and who am I to disagree?

Cool Sounds – In Blue Skies

The only thing better than this beautifully lush, semi-new one from Cool Sounds is the blue-tinted panther that adorns the cover of their single artwork. Fuck yes to the marriage of jungle cats and 10/10 guitar pop!

Crepes – Hidden Star

Another winner courtesy of Deaf Ambitions, this one is a bit more of a psych-laden pool of guitar. It’s a bit of a slower jam than Crepes previous singles, but “Hidden Star” is still a crisp sip of a tinnie in January.

Heart Beach – Counting/Relief 7″

I wish that we lived under the kind but firm rule of a benevolent dictator that forced everyone to own a copy of Heart Beach’s Counting/Relief 7″, and we were forced to play it three times a day, every day, to remind us all how lucky we are that Heart Beach are a band making songs like “Counting” and “Relief”.

Weak Boys – Life Rules

Weak Boys got a shoutout in the liner notes in the new Violent Soho album, and they managed to grab a bloody gig at the most hallowed of Sydney’s venues – the Newtown Social Club (as immortalised on the B-Side of this CD-R single). So yeah, life really does rule, doesn’t it?

SMILE – Rhythm Method

If you’re having a shocker, put on this new album from SMILE. As soon as the frenzy of “Cool. I Need Money” kicks in, the shitkicking you’ve suffered through will start to fade. By the time “BLVD” rolls in, the fact that you work as a Dave Hughes impersonator is a distant memory.

Great Outdoors – I Look Back

I reckon Don Burke should renew Burke’s Backyard, and make “I Look Back” the new theme song – it’s a fucking great song, it keeps with the whole “outdoor” theme, and it would surely see a dip in the ratings for all the other early-arvo lifestyle shows. You’re move Ready, Steady Cook.

Tiny Little Houses –  Milo Tin

Yeah, nah, how great is this band? Every time I steal 2 minute noodles from now on, it has to be soundtracked by this song.

Verge Collection – Class of ’09

This is the best song about high school since Papa Roach’s “Last Resort”.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Write Back

They’ve changed their name but RBCF’s still know how to write the fuck out of a song. “Write Back” makes you want to put down the guitar and notepad because you’ll never be as good these blokes.

Glaciers – Local Hero

“Local Hero” has that same gentle, lilting embrace as Boomgates, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and Twerps and that’s the highest compliment anyone can give a band.

 

Morning TV – Dive

It’s pretty tough not to swoon at this one – what a bunch of bloody dreamboats! Second song in, and I’m hooked like a tuna that’s happened to pass within a one kilometre radius of a fishing trawler.

 

Album Review: The Ocean Party – Light Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: The Ocean Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Best Bands of BIGSOUND

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Brisbane – you go alright. Sydney folk have given you a bit of a rough ride throughout the years: “It’s too hot…full of bogans…fucking Maroon wankers” are all pretty common complaints. But after offering up so many fantastic bands over the years, it was awesome to finally experience the whirlwind of your uncomfortably warm embrace. And BIGSOUND! What a treat! Despite an abundance of blokes (always blokes) with incredibly overinflated egos (shoutouts to the guy that threw his pass in a security guard’s face, throwing his arm at the 30 second queue and exclaiming “But I’m a delegate! That’s a punter’s line…THIS IS BULLSHIT!”) BIGSOUND is an opportunity.

Y’see, there’s over 150 bands playingsome incredible, some lame as shit, but all there to hopefully further their careers and find success, whatever that definition might be. And I’m really happy about that – there’s not nearly enough cash being thrown back to the musicians who make our punter lives such a joy. So, even though don’t like it, who gives a shit? I’m happy for any artist, of any genre, to achieve their goal, particularly through a process like BIGSOUND, which is a great way to connect with folks who can help you. For every guy that can’t stop mentioning the fact that he works in the “music industry”, there are a dozen people who genuinely care about checking out as many of the good things on offer. So here’s my two cents on the best bands up at BIGSOUND – and by the way, if you ever fucking make me wait in a queue again, I will sue you.

10. Rainbow Chan

The electronic contingent at BIGSOUND was pretty disappointing this year. Maybe it’s coming from a really ill-informed “band bro” point of view, but watching someone overanalyse a set of decks just really doesn’t seem like that exciting of a thing to watch. It was the acts that went left of centre and made the most of their sets that performed best: Sui Zhen and NULL both pulled off impressive and visually engaging sets that are worth checking out. But it was Rainbow Chan that proved to be the most energetic and lively; she’s criminally underrated, and doesn’t play shows nearly enough. Any chance to catch her bop, groove and twirl onstage is a treat that should be taken advantage of immediately.

9. Tired Lion

If I wasn’t guzzling booze and schmoozing up to the heads of the major labels with all the gusto of Gary Busey on a coke binge, then I probably would’ve made it into the sold-out Gang of Youths gig, and they would’ve been on this list. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen (didn’t even get a fucking corporate sponsorship out of all that sucking up either). However, it did mean that I caught Tired Lion, Perth shredders that feature an absolute powerhouse of a front woman, the unstoppable Sophie Hopes. She latched onto every figure in the packed out room with the ferocity of the band’s namesake tearing open the throat of the slowest gazelle in the Savannah. We are all that gazelle, and all we could do was stare in awe of the show that Tired Lion supplied as they stewed upon our entrails.

8. Cosmic Psychos

Their new album leaves a lot to be desired, as much of a disappointment as my results at uni. But it would be plain ignorant to call Cosmic Psychos as anything less than a heritage act, an influential band that spits in the face of legacy because they’re too busy riding tractors and slamming into dead roos. Their reputation as one of the best pub rockers remains undisputed when it comes to a live show. Sweaty, blood-spurting and beer-soaked faces caked the grey-haired but perpetually young-at-heart performance, as classics “Nice Day to Go the Pub”, “Lost Cause” and “David Lee Roth” all saw air time, both from the stage and the bevy of crowd-surfers.

7. DARTS

DARTS played two sets, and both proved to be overwhelming punches of spectacle. Straight ahead, teeth-bared rock that presents itself as a slew snarling anthems, but is plagued with cutting self-analysis and anguish, which explodes in the live arena. DARTS work well in confined spaces, barrelling through track after track on the stages of Brisbane with loaded sets of staunch, lip-curling grunge.

6. WAAX

On a bill packed with rock acts, WAAX feel like the band destined to inspire more than fair few teenagers to pick up the guitar and thrash around in their bedroom. This band deserves every loud-loving punters full attention, and catching them live should shoot to the top of the list. Ask anyone who was there, and you’re likely to get the same gushing response as entailed here. Front woman Marie De Vita is particularly worthy of praise, an irrepressible emerald-doused firework who dominates the crowd like she’s Joan of Arc and we’re all a bunch of bloody Brits ready for rock slaughter.

5. Tiny Little Houses

This show was absolutely fucking packed. A full 24 hours later, and my lungs still haven’t decompressed themselves. But mate, wasn’t it bloody worth it? I’d kinda given up on folk bands, what with the realisation that Boy & Bear and The Paper Kites both suck…but man, Tiny Little Houses – swoon! They’re lo-fi recordings shine on a stage, and the inclusion of a fair bit of shredding helps bolster their performances into quite the mesmerising spectacle.

4. The Ocean Party

The Ocean Party are easily the hardest working band in Australia, with more live gigs notched under their belts than Ron Jeremy’s got STD’s. Not only that, but they’ve got a fifth record due out in a month AND all seven members deal with their own stellar recording projects in what mythical spare time they have. With all that practice and constant skill-honing, it’s no wonder that The Ocean Party are one of the most charming bands to watch in Aus. Their gigs will suck you in like a bloody typhoon, and you’ll have their incredible brand of guitar-pop stuck in your head for days, weeks, months, years. Truly, this band is the herpes of music…but delightful instead of burning.

3. Dorsal Fins

There’s a fuck-off amount of members in Dorsal Fins, so many that it’s all too easy to lose count. Watching them is like watching that classic gorilla selective attention experiment video – your eyes are bouncing between so many members that a giant ape could walk through the middle and you wouldn’t notice. Not that King Kong antics are a problem here – you’re having way too much fun! Dorsal Fins do pop to its logical, exuberant climax, and the unstoppable Ella Thompson not only possesses one hell of a voice, but the most enthusiastic dance moves that BIGSOUND had to offer. On a bill filled with bright pop musicians, Dorsal Fins were far and away the most brilliant and enticing.

2. The Goon Sax

One song and a handful of demos is apparently enough to fill up a room to a dangerous capacity. If someone coughed, the whole audience would’ve come down with pneumonia the next day. But of course, everyone was excited to check out the new Chapter Music signing. After 20 years, one of the most prestigious and continuously enigmatic labels in Australia went out on a limb and signed their first band based on unsolicited demos. Holy shit did they make the right decision: three high school kids, loaded with shy charm and a love for bands that I wish I could’ve claimed to be into in Year 12 (The Apartments, Go-Betweens, and The Bats) deserved every cheer and clap they got during their slot. I don’t even give a shit if I’ve got whooping cough now – seeing The Goon Sax will be worth every second of my impending plague.

1. DEAFCULT

I am so okay with a band with four guitars. Yeah, you read that right – four. This band has the same amount of guitars as the core cast of Seinfeld has members. And they use these guitars in their entire brutal capacity – nobody was leaving this room without bleeding eardrums and grin planted on their cranium. Fuck, there is so much to love about this band: from the name, to the incredible musicianship on display, to the simple awe generated by the sheer volume of it all. This band is epic, but with all the pretension removed. Watching DEAFCULT is an experience that anyone with even a passing interest in what guitars can do should participate in. Fuck…I think I’ve shit myself just from thinking back to it.

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”

“Lanny?”

“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.

New: The Ocean Party – Guess Work

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

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

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

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

 

New from The Ocean Party Crew™: Snowy Nasdaq + Ciggie Witch + Cool Sounds

The Ocean Party are easily one of the best bands in Australia, but one of the best aspects of the band is how restless the members are. Not only do they pump out albums faster than a hardcore Christian rabbit pumps out babies, but the individual members also treat the making of music like it’s a resource, churning out as much of the good shit as possible before it all runs out.

Hence, here is a collection of a the recent releases by various solo guises from The Ocean Party that you would do well to feast upon:

SNOWY NASDAQ & SNOWY LIFE – Ironic Life

The Ocean Party’s irrepressible guitarist/internet demi-god Snowy Nasdaq returns under his forever-shifting solo moniker. This time, it’s with a video that’s like Wes Anderson going lo-budget and sadistic. Snowy slaps himself more times than a self-hating henchman who is constantly screwing up, to the background of a forgotten home aerobics video. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in watching, then fuck you, you’re boring.

 

Ciggie Witch – Look of Pain

I can’t believe I didn’t spot this before – the Melbourne guitar-pop sextet Ciggie Witch sounds exactly like triple j wunderkid “rapper” Allday. Jesus, how did I not fucking SEE THIS! It’s so obvious! If can’t call distinctions this blatant, then what is even the fucking point of any of this? Isn’t that the whole point of writing????

There was serious consideration of giving up everything and getting a real job, and refusing to mention anything about the new Ciggie Witch track, but the Soundly Sounds Board of Directors forced my hand. They roughed me up, Sopranos-style,quoting something like, “Take this incredible song and say something witty, like how Zac is hitting all the big contemporary musical notes, because he’s always known the DJ”. However, my spirits are so low, I don’t think I can muster a terrible pun. Sorry, no hilarity in this post, it’s been sucked dry by lack of will to live, being so out of touch with contemporary music.

Cool Sounds – Control

I don’t believe that Cool Sounds actually contain any actual members of The Ocean Party, but Snowy contributes violin to this track, and my loose morals (read: lying) have always been such a durable part of my life philosophy, and…Jesus Christ, does it matter? This song rules!

“Control” is just under three minutes of lush, plucking dream-pop. More interestingly, it’s a self-analysing trip of torture, with lines like, “I keep dreaming that I’m cheating on you” and “I’m running out of time to come back home” brimming with the kind of self-hatred that seems to only either stem from Melbourne 20-somethings and HBO characters. Beautiful.

 

Do yourself a favour, and steal a glance at these bastards when they travel North for a stunner-deal of a show at The Union in Newtown, on June 26th. Ciggie Witch and Cool Sounds – Just a Couple of Mates.

Video: The Newsletters – Lucky Country

Conor Hutchison is probably better known for his time in Cat Cat and From the South, but he also moonlights with his own project The Newsletters. It’s simple, serene and breathtaking music, like driving along The Great Ocean Road for the first time, or walking into a pub and seeing they’ve got Reschs on tap.

“Lucky Country” is a weird mix of horrifying and lush, as Hutchison describes a car accident in brutal detail, and mingles that sentiment with homesickness. But it’s also real pretty; shuffling drum splashes courtesy of Lachlan Denton (The Ocean Party) sighing violins from Robert McComb of The Triffids, and Hutchison’s warm voice smoothed out over the top of it all, like the spreading of avocado on toast on a hangover-less Sunday morning.  Just like a weekend that doesn’t end in regret and cranium pain, this Newsletters track is a real rare, beautiful thing.